Danger In Havana – Episode 11

MARK considered Bryony as they walked down the Calle Mercarderes. She was determined, like a she-tiger looking for its cub.

Local Habaneros looked at her curiously as they sat on their steps chatting, or rearranging the pineapples, bananas and guavas they sold for a few Cuban convertible pesos from handcarts on the streets.

It was as if they were wondering why an Englishwoman wasn’t doing the usual tourist loitering, observing the 18th-century buildings and taking photos.

“You don’t have to go so fast,” Mark urged her. “Let’s have a coffee, talk about what we’re doing here, who we’re going to see.”

“What’s the point in that?”

Bryony’s dark eyes were flashing with intensity, with the need to get things done, with barely disguised fear for her lost only child.

He grasped her by the shoulders and stopped her dead in her tracks.

“Listen to me, Bryony. I’ve seen parents in a similar state when I’ve carried out investigations before. There are two types. There are those who simply crumble and spend hours staring into space or take to their beds.

“Then there are the doers, those parents who have to get out and do something positive, who have to search all day and all night long if necessary until they’re exhausted. You must slow down if you’re to survive this.” He sighed.

“I know you feel you have to get out and do everything at once, but one of the keys to detection is cool, quiet, thinking and working stuff through. It’s observing and talking to people, and digesting what they tell you. It’s not rushing about and sending yourself crazy in the process. If you do that, you miss things.

“I’ve seen cops, good cops, at the end of long investigations say, ‘If only we’d seen that, it was right in front of our faces and we missed it’. That sort of regret comes from over-activity and not enough calm thought.”

He grasped her shoulders.

“We could even see stuff here, in this road, close to where Anna disappeared which might be vital to finding her. These things may not be immediately apparent but they might become important once we go on. All I’m saying, Bryony, is slow down, please.”

He could see the frustration in her eyes. He could sense the need not to be told what to do, as he felt her body rigid under his hands.

He saw her chest rise and fall.

“I . . .” she bit her lip, the words not coming easily “. . . need to stand up on my own two feet. I’m on my own now, you see. I don’t have Warren to help or to confide in. You need to let me do things my way.”

He released her gently, as if she was a wounded cat he was trying to treat.

“What you need is to calm down and listen to an expert. I’m not lording it over you but believe me, I know what I’m doing. We will find Anna, we will.” He nodded his head, long and hard.

“I have never had a missing persons investigation that I didn’t solve. I’ve won commendations for my skills. But I will say this, no missing child was ever found by a bunch of people running around headstrong and worked up, rushing into things.”

For a moment, as her shoulders drooped, he thought she might burst into tears.

But it was almost as if Bryony Kemp had run out of tears to cry.

She closed her eyes, then opened them again.

“I’m sorry, you’re right. We’ll do it your way. But you must promise me we’ll find her.”

“I promise,” Mark said, and suddenly this investigation meant more to him than any other he’d undertaken. Because he knew that the woman standing in front of him couldn’t take any more disappointments in life, or any more fear, or uncertainty.

She needed putting back together.

He knew what it was like, that feeling that everything had fallen apart and nothing could be right again.

He knew it and he hated it.

If it killed him, he was going to put Bryony Kemp back together again. He was going to fix the chips and the breaks which she had suffered, make her whole.

And in doing so, perhaps, just perhaps, he might be able to find what was real, to forget his own wounded past, and to put himself back together again.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, Tracey has found her perfect place on The Friend as she’s obsessed with reading and never goes anywhere without a book! She reads all the PF stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!