Thursday, 11 July 2013

Adventures in Cephalonia 6

Hello. My name is Kostas Economides and I am a lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of the South of England (USE for short). Well, actually that is not true really as the names of individuals and institutions in this blog have been changed to protect the innocent - and the guilty!

Once George had left Gus prepared coffee for Rebecca and himself. He was trying to remain calm but he felt powerless. Who was this mysterious Panos Maheras and what was he up to? Smuggling, the police seemed to think. Drugs or people perhaps. Obviously it was something big enough for him to be worried that he was under investigation and to kidnap Heather. Why did Maheras think that Gus might be an investigator?

"Have you taken anyone else to the fishermen's café?" he asked Rebecca. "Why, no" she replied. "As I have told you I have very little contact with other people being stuck up at the taverna most of the time. You and Heather are the only people I have taken. George refused to come with me when I asked him."

"How did you find out about the place?" asked Gus. "That's a funny thing" replied Rebecca. "I was in the market one day buying a few vegetables when Panos suddenly appeared next to me and engaged me in conversation. He was very friendly and seemed really interested in our taverna restoration project when I told him about it". So that's how he knows where you live, thought Gus.

"And just before we parted company he told me about the café and suggested that I dropped in sometime. A little over a week after that I decided to try it. I enjoyed it there and have been back maybe a dozen times since." But always on your own, thought Gus. So Maheras must have wondered who these people were who suddenly turned up with her this time. Perhaps he didn't buy the story that Heather and I had just stumbled upon Rebecca and her taverna.

"What did Maheras talk to you about when you saw him in the café?" asked Gus. "Oh, nothing much, I told him a lot about the taverna restoration project .And how I came to be there - the dead man on the plane and the police interrogation."

Interesting, thought Gus. Could there be some link to the charter plane service and the smuggling? What if the fishermen were picking up drugs when they were out on their boats, bringing it back to shore for the fat man somehow to get it to the UK via the charter flight. And was Maheras somehow concerned that the police or a private investigator was on to him?

Before they could finish their coffees and Gus could follow this line of thought any further there was a knock at the door and the policeman who they had seen earlier asked if he could come in "Any news?" asked Gus hopefully. "No, not yet I'm afraid. But I thought it was only fair that I came to see you and acquaint you with a bit more background on what has been going on."

He then told them that Maheras had been under investigation for some time, As Gus had guessed they thought that he was smuggling drugs - somehow transported from Turkey to Albania - then picked up at sea in Maheras' fishing boats and then take surreptitiously to the UK, possibly on the charter flight. A policeman from London had been sent out to investigate but had died of a heart attack on the plane on his way out.

The doctors had looked for more sinister causes of death but could find nothing. “Oh my God” said Rebecca. “You don’t think that I had anything to do with this do you?” “No” replied the policeman. “You were new to the service. Whoever is involved – if this is the way that it works – is someone who has been working on the flight for some time. We have been investigating them all to see if they have suddenly come into a lot of money – including the pilots as well as the cabin crew. But we haven’t found anything. And none of them emerged as suspicious when we questioned them.

The policeman went on to say that they had spotted Maheras making contact with Rebecca and had been tailing her when she went to the café. That is why he had been up so early and in his office that morning. He was disappointed that the two young policemen who were supposed to be keeping an eye on things had failed to stop the kidnapping.

Gus wondered if he should tell the policeman what George and his brother were up to but decided to keep quiet for the time being as he was unsure how Rebecca might react.

“So what is the next move?” he asked. “Do we just wait here and hope for good news? Do you have any idea where Maheras might be hiding Heather?”

The policeman replied that there were a few leads that they were following up. Gus suddenly remembered the note that Maheras had left and went to fetch it to show to the policeman. What should he do, he asked, should he take a reply to the café?

The policeman said that, yes, this might be the right thing to do as it might cause Maheras to make contact again. He might even go to the café to get your answer in which case the police would be able to pick up his trail. "I think you should take your reply to the café now and then come back here to get some sleep. I shall stay here to coordinate things so if I get any news while you are sleeping I will wake you up to tell you immediately".

And so it was that Gus delivered his reply to the café and then returned to the taverna to get some sleep. Rebecca had made up a bed for him in the guest room. To his surprise, despite his real concern for what Heather was going through he was very tired and almost immediately fell asleep.

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