Danger In Havana – Episode 34

AT this point, Bryony’s jaw dropped. Warren? How on earth could he be mixed up in all this?

She turned to Anna, looking for an explanation, but the girl merely dropped her gaze to the floor. It was then that Bryony realised Anna had known something dreadful about her father which she hadn’t been able to confess.

As Bryony listened to Otto Weber continue, she had the sensation that she was falling apart gradually, slowly. That her life would never be the same again.

“Warren Kemp and I did some business together, buying and selling a few paintings. We got to know each other well. When he sent me a photo of Anna I was struck by how much she looked like Clara when she was young.

“That’s when I got my idea. Warren was desperate: he’d got himself into financial scrapes, his gambling had got out of hand.”

“Gambling?” Bryony said, aghast.

“You didn’t know?” Weber shrugged his shoulders. “That’s not unusual. Often the wife is the last one to know. He needed money and I promised him Anna wouldn’t come to any harm.

“He was going to persuade her to play the part, that’s why he arranged for you all to come on holiday here. Then, he said, you were not interested in art, but he could take Anna off ostensibly on little trips to galleries. That is when we would persuade her to pretend to be the long-lost child. She spoke German like a native; it was perfect.” His eyes widened.

“When Warren died I thought our plan would come to nothing. But then I ran into you that day you arrived in Havana. I couldn’t believe my luck that you had still decided to holiday here. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to carry out my plan.

“It was even more perfect because Anna didn’t want to besmirch her father’s memory in your eyes, dear lady. She didn’t want her mother to know that her father was not quite the upright man he pretended to be. It wasn’t difficult to persuade her.

“You, Aunt, despite your brave words, weren’t entirely sure whether Anna was genuine or not. I think you were biding your time. If she had been genuine, you thought you could still triumph. That you could pay Clara back for deserting you, for the fact you wasted all that time and effort and smothering love you put into her when she was a child.

“I don’t believe you weren’t taken in. I believe you had your doubts, but you simply weren’t sure.”

The old lady shaded her eyes.

“You were very struck at the thought of getting revenge, of being able to steal the girl you thought was Marlene, weren’t you? I believe you were taken in, and were on the verge of trying to bring her under your wing. You’re lonely, Aunt; you were on the brink of trying to tempt her with money from the paintings, maybe even persuading her to move to Cuba and live with you.

“I thought I could persuade Anna to join in my deception by promising her a cut of the wealth. Once we had got to know where the paintings were, she could have had her money and gone back to England. But the stupid girl wasn’t interested, were you, Anna?”

He cast a glance towards Bryony, and she held Anna closer to her than ever.

Mark stepped forward to stand between them. Even in handcuffs, Otto Weber was trying to menace others, to exercise his power to manipulate.

“That was when I had to threaten her,” Otto sneered. “I had to tell her that I would reveal to her mother what a waster her father was. How he had spent most of his time gambling and living on the edge, and how he had sold stolen goods to feed his habit.”

Bryony suddenly felt sick. What was he saying? What had Warren got himself mixed up in? But Otto Weber carried on.

“Anna didn’t believe me at first, did you?” Bryony turned towards her daughter, but Anna appeared crestfallen, desperately sad at the revelations she could see were searing into Bryony’s fond memories of her husband.

“Is he telling the truth, Anna?”

“Mum, I’m so sorry. Dad asked me not to tell. He said it would all be all right in the end, he just had a few debts to pay, then he’d stop.”

“Of course it’s true,” Weber scoffed. “It would have gone according to plan, if this hero in shining armour hadn’t turned up.” He stared at Mark, and if looks could kill Mark would have dropped dead on the spot.

“If you hadn’t found me in Trinidad and blown my cover all of this could have ended simply. I would have got what I wanted and this dear lady here would not have had to learn an uncomfortable truth about her dead husband.

“Aunt, I think you would have told us where the paintings were eventually. Now, none of us can make use of them. Your selfish ways have meant that they will have to go back to Germany, to the families who thought they were gone for ever.” Mark stepped forward.

“Isn’t that what should happen? Those paintings were stolen from their rightful owners. They may have been bought, but they were bought in wartime at ridiculously low prices from people who were desperate. They were, in effect, stolen and they’ve never done either of you any good. You two are as bad as each other. I think we’ve heard enough here today.”

With that, Davido, the Trinidad police chief, led Otto Weber away, leaving his two officers Luis and Santiago to clear the paintings out of the house and take them under armed guard to the police station.

As they departed from the building, leaving Otto Weber’s aunt alone in her big house with just her faithful maid to look after her, Bryony looked back and for a moment felt a pang of compassion for the sad old lady.

She’d been left alone with her memories. Now she had no family, not even Otto for company. She was left with nothing but the misery that selfishness and deviousness brings. Nevertheless, the last Bryony saw of her, was her looking out of the window with her chin defiantly raised.


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!