Historical Fiction: Walking Away from Midnight – Sample Chapter 5

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Last Updated on June 3, 2024 by ADMIN-TOM

Chapter Five

Dio Deberge

Cairo, Egypt, October 1929

Nev, for the first time in his new career as a purveyor of other people’s secrets, was nervous. Even more so when he knocked on Dio Deberge’s door. The guard, eyeing him up as if he was measuring Nev for a coffin, kept a respectful silence, but was obviously ready for any eventuality.

A small window in the heavy black metal door slid to the left. A slit opened. Two eyes, like a chameleon, looked left, right, crossed back and looked at each other. Nev, fascinated, watched the eyes of Jules Mornair, flicking back and forth.

“Yes,” Mornair said with some urgency.

“I need to see Dio.”

“Why?”

“Mind your own business, Jules. You’re his bookkeeper, not his nanny.”

The small slit disappeared as Mornair shut the metal panel with a clang. The door’s bolt was opened, locks were unlocked and eventually the full door opened with a squeal, reminiscent of a mouse caught in a cat’s mouth.

Nev stepped into the room and the door squealed once more as it shut behind him.

“This way,” Mornair said as he passed on Nev’s left.

Nev nodded and followed the diminutive Mornair, who limped his way slowly through the labyrinth of corridors and rooms that were Dio’s private rooms and public meeting places. An eclectic mix of pleasure, danger, and downright peril pervaded the building. The clientele, workers, entertainers, and other offshoots that made up Dio’s entourage were scurrying around, making sure they did their jobs adequately, and that nobody had any reason to complain to Dio about them. One complaint usually meant the person lost their job, if they were lucky, or lost their life if they were not so lucky.

“Nev! My dear friend, how are you?” The voice boomed out and unmistakably showed an Egyptian attempting to create a clipped English accent. It didn’t work, Dio Deberge had been told this many times. But still he persisted. It was his only affectation. He maintained his attempts at becoming that which he was not born to be. Part of the British aristocracy.

Nev followed Mornair into Dio’s inner sanctum where the big Egyptian was sprawled across the biggest throne room chair Nev had ever seen outside of Britain.

“New throne, my friend. What do you think? Biggest you have seen, I bet.”

Nev nodded. “Impressive, Dio. Where did you find it?”

“Find? Not find, dear Nev. I saw it at my friend’s place. He had brought it in from a German loot stashed somewhere in the desert. I give ‘im a decent price. He happy. I’m happy.”

“Everybody is happy,” Nev said with a smile.

“Maybe, maybe not. What ‘append at the tables yesterday, Nev. Why you try to cheat me?”

“Cheat,” Nev said in mock outrage. “I’m no cheat. I lost money on that roulette table. Money that is now gathering dust in your safe, of that, I’m sure.”

“Not me, Nev. I didn’t get nothing from that transaction. Your brother saw to that. He is a rotten apple in a barrel, Nev. In your barrel Nev. So, what you do about ‘im?”

“Not a lot I can do, is there, Dio? Unless you want me to shoot my brother.”

“Naw, Nev. That is unnecessary. We carry on with our little business transactions, keeping an eye out for your brother and others like ‘im. What is it you have for me to sell?”

Nev sat in the seat to Dio’s right and dropped his briefcase onto his lap. He flicked through the small number combination lock and opened the deep brown briefcase. Nev retrieved the contents, a sheaf of foolscap papers and a set of draughtsman’s plans. Nev unfolded the plans and held them up for Dio to see. Mornair moved around to Dio’s left side so that he too could get a good look at the plans.

“This is worth a few hundred thousand,” Nev said, holding the plans high and wide.

“What is it?” Dio said, peering closely at the drawing on the plan.

“It’s a plane.”

“But it’s only got one wing. There should be at least two.”

“That’s the beauty of this fighter plane. Its design is revolutionary.”

“What it called?”

“She’s called a Spitfire.”

“I like the name, but not the design.”

“Dio, you are not, in any stretch of anyone’s imagination, an aircraft designer. I’m telling you now, this aircraft is a potential war winner. A world beater. A British designer created it especially for the RAF.”

“How much?”

“One hundred.”

“Fifty.”

“Seventy-five.”

“Done,” Dio said with a grin. “That will pay off your debt to me.”

“I hadn’t finished haggling. Eighty-five.”

Dio frowned, ground his teeth and a rumble of anger gurgled up from his belly. Suddenly, Dio broke into a broad grin and burst into laughter.

“You drive a hard bargain, Nev. You are cheeky and best of all, you are a true English gentleman. I will agree on one condition.”

Nev smiled. “What condition?”

“You introduce me to your king.”

“George the fifth!”

“Is that a problem?”

Nev digested the request. Realised he had no choice but to agree. This deal must stand if his brother was going to get his evidence.

“Very well, Dio. I’ll make the arrangements when I get home.”

Dio sat back on his throne and grunted, another big smile creasing his face. “We have a deal,” he said.

At that precise moment, when Dio Deberge believed, he was finally going to get a chance at joining the British aristocracy, the British Military Police broke into Dio’s inner sanctum and entered through smashed doors and windows. Thirty Military Police and several other ranks from the Durham Light Infantry, rifles, and handguns at the ready, closed in around Dio, Maurice, Nev and Dio’s ten guards. All of whom tried to make good their escape, only to find themselves blocked, cuffed, and led away to a waiting military convoy of camouflaged British Army trucks.

Dio sat, stood, sat again. He shifted his weight left, then right as his face deepened into a reddish hue that would look good spurting from a volcano.

“Call the police! Call the Police!”

“That won’t do any good, Dio,” Nev said, calmly staying in his seat and watching the turn of events.

“I own the police,” Dio said with a growl.

“But you don’t own the British Army. If this is my brother’s doing, don’t worry. I’ll sort it out.”

Dio frowned but sat back on his throne and awaited his fate, knowing there was little else he could do.

Nev looked at the mass of British khaki uniforms. He could only see one junior officer, who was not his brother. The officer turned and spied Nev and Dio, smiled with a somewhat malicious demeanour. He sauntered over to where Nev and Dio sat.

“Dio Deberge and Nev Fordham, I take it.”

“Correct,” Nev said. “Where’s my brother?”

“On his way back to Catterick, Captain Fordham. You and Mr. Deberge are to follow me. Oh, and you are both under arrest on various charges.”

Nev, for the first time that night, looked worried.

“What happening, Nev? Who this man is?”

“Lieutenant David Samson, Mr. Deberge.”

“Why is my brother on his way to Catterick?”

“I do not know, Captain. All I know is that he was relieved of command of this MP unit and told to report to the barracks at Catterick. I’m now in charge, and you two will follow me.”

Nev stood and looked around, a forlorn hope his brother may be pulling a sick joke on him. Dio followed suit, also looking around, but with no idea what it was he was looking at or looking for.

Outside, Nev and Dio were hustled into a staff car by two burly Military Police corporals, each sitting alongside Nev and Dio. Handcuffs were produced, and the two men were now firmly cuffed to the MPs. Nev realised they were taking no chances of either of them escaping and the night had taken a serious turn for the worse.

Nev and Dio were going to face a military court and Nev knew he was in serious trouble with his only source of help having left Egypt, blighty bound.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2022

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Chapters 1-2: http://fictionbooks.online/walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapters-1-2

Chapter 3: http://fictionbooks.online/historical-fiction-walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapter-3

Chapter 4: http://fictionbooks.online/historical-fiction-walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapter-4

Chapter 5: http://fictionbooks.online/historical-fiction-walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapter-5

Chapter 6: http://fictionbooks.online/historical-fiction-walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapter-6

Chapter 7: http://fictionbooks.online/historical-fiction-walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapter-7

Chapter 8: http://fictionbooks.online/historical-fiction-walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapter-8

Chapter 9: http://fictionbooks.online/historical-fiction-walking-away-from-midnight-sample-chapter-9

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