Danger In Havana – Episode 32


THE next 24 hours went by in a whirlwind. The police took them back to Havana in a police car and Otto Weber and the old lady, who it was confirmed was his aunt, were taken in a separate squad car.

Norelvis was full of excitement, having taken on the unofficial role of police interpreter. He had been told by Davido what was going to happen next. While they sped along the motorway, he explained.

“We go to Otto Weber’s house in Havana for police to search. They not know exactly what his motive in stealing Miss Anna. But the old lady, she know, she says she will show them. We go, too, for you must find out what has been going on and as Davido is uncle of my friend we get special treatment,” he said glowing with pride at his new-found VIP status.

Bryony had not pressed Anna for explanations. The girl clearly needed a rest from her ordeal.

“I haven’t slept properly since I last saw you, Mum, I’m exhausted. Please let me sleep on the journey back. There are things I don’t understand myself.

“All I can tell you is, Otto Weber kidnapped me because he wanted me to play a part to trick that poor old lady. I had to pretend to be her grandchild, who she hadn’t seen for years. I felt awful, but if I didn’t he told me he’d reveal the truth about . . .”

“About what, sweetheart? About someone?”

Then Anna’s expression had filled with dread. Bryony was confused. What was more, Mark looked so grave. His mouth was pinched and his forehead harsh, with a line of concern which scared her.

“Mark, what’s going on?”

“I think it would be best if we wait for Otto Weber to explain what’s been going on, and if we let Anna get some rest.”

“Mum, please, Mark’s right.”

They exchanged a look, and Anna gripped Bryony’s hand very tightly as she laid her head on her shoulder.

“Let me sleep. I’m so tired, so very tired.”

She did sleep the whole journey, while Bryony stared out of the window, not knowing what more shocks the day could hold.

Finally, they reached Havana and the police drove them straight to Otto Weber’s house. The door was opened by the maid who looked terrified to see the police.

However, Bryony thought, also in an odd way, she seemed to be expecting them. There was a resigned look on her face as if she might have held herself in readiness for this moment to come at any time.

She gave Otto Weber a look of pure venom, and immediately shot forward to help the old lady over the threshold.

“Come,” Norelvis said. “We are all to go upstairs, to the room at the top. There is a lift for the old lady but it is too small for all, we must walk.”

Once they had made it to the upstairs room, Bryony gripped Anna’s hand tight. Weber’s maid, his aunt, Mark, Anna and herself, were all present, then the three policemen marched Weber in, his hands cuffed behind his back.

The old lady took the only seat. She looked exhausted.

“My English is not perfect,” she began with a slight German accent, “but I have to say how sorry I am that you have been pulled into this dreadful business by my nephew, Otto Weber.

“Here,” she said, fixing him with steely grey eyes and pointing towards the small door leading to the attic, “is what you were looking for, Otto. Through that door is what you have been hungering for, for decades. The paintings are here. All of them, the whole collection.”

He looked mystified and horrified at the same time. Colour rose in his face, the redness betraying years of pent-up anger.

“They cannot possibly be here,” he spat. “I’ve shared this house on and off with you for years, and I have searched in that attic and found nothing. You’re lying.”

“No.” She nodded her head. “Galicia,” she said to the maid, “go and get the Matisse. That is the finest of the treasures, although, as you know, Otto, there is a Dix, and even a Picasso.”

The maid disappeared into the attic space, then came out with a vibrant painting of a cat chasing a butterfly.

Otto Weber’s eyes grew large. He moved his arms as if to touch it, before remembering they were handcuffed. He was bound as surely as a lobster with its claws tied.

“But . . .” he spluttered. “I looked everywhere! I searched that attic, the whole house, from top to bottom.”

“You think you’re very clever, Otto,” his aunt said. “But you are not. Just like you thought you were clever kidnapping this girl and persuading her to pretend to be little Marlene, all grown up.

“Yes, it is true I haven’t ever seen Marlene, and I haven’t even been sent a photo of her grown up. And yes, this girl does look a little like I would imagine my great-niece looks now, she has a certain resemblance to our family. But that’s a coincidence.

“The problem is, Otto, I’ve never trusted you. I never will. I know how duplicitous you are, and how hungry you’ve always been to find those paintings. I hadn’t worked out your plan completely, but I suspected this girl wasn’t who she said she was. What’s more, I’m not as feebleminded as I led you to believe. In fact, though, like anyone my age, I do on occasion forget things, my mind is as sharp as ever. It needed to be, with you interfering in my life.”

“What paintings?” Bryony asked, looking at Weber. “What paintings were so important that you kidnapped my daughter and put us through all this misery?”

It was his aunt who replied.

“It’s an important collection, my father’s collection. I’m not proud of it, that is why I’ve never let the paintings see the light of day. They have brought this family nothing but misery and a trail of deception.”

 

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!