As you grab your coffee in the morning do you ever wonder about the discussions of all those other people, the ones that don't have their noses buried in a paper, the ones not busily trying to work out which of the numbers one to nine goes where in a grid of irritating complexity? What is going on in those quiet, muttered over the table talks? Some conversations might be worth listening to. Some might be better not overheard.
"So, how can I help?"
Adrian looked around, the small restaurant was filled with people. It was breakfast time. Some were drinking tea or coffee, others working their way through thick slices of bread folded over rashers of bacon. A few, less concerned about their waistlines confronted plates of egg, bacon, sausages and baked beans with slices of toast piled on the side. "Err, is it, you know, all right? I mean here with all these people?"
Calshott nodded. He understood Adrian's nervousness. After all it wasn't every day that you have a discussion on the abduction of your ex-wife. "Half of the people work for us, the other half are clients more or less. Nobody will be bothered."
"Your tea." A lanky, dark haired, girl with a mole on her cheek smiled at Adrian as she put the thick white mug down on the Formica covered table top.
"Thanks," said Adrian before turning back to Calshott.
Calshott reached for his briefcase and went to pull out a manila folder. "Just for clarification. Was this for termination or relocation?"
"Goodness I hadn't realised the first was an option. I mean surely you don't... ?"
"Kill people? No. Of course not. That would be very illegal I thought I should ask though. Just to be clear."
Adrian looked at him wondering how "very" illegal activities differed from just simply illegal ones. "Oh. Well. No. 'Relocation' you called it? Yes, I suppose that would be it." He'd taken a long time to come to the conclusion that he really had to do something about Judy and it was only when the Bureau contacted him that he had realised there was a simple way to solve the problem. Actually that was another puzzle, thought Adrian, how had they known he needed their services?
Calshott was talking again as he rummaged through the manila file. "In which case the next question is where from and where to?"
"Where from, I suppose would be her home. She's living in Gloucestershire. Doesn't come up to London much. Doesn't leave the village much."
"Is that bad?"
"No. Just, more difficult. It affects our charges. Village – quiet places – people quickly missed – that sort of thing."
"Ah. Well. Of course."
"Don't worry that's fine. We do have specialists for rural areas. People that understand the countryside, farms, forests, all that nature. Not my scene but there are those that like it I'm told. And destination... ?"
"I thought I could leave that to you. I didn't really have anywhere special in mind."
"OK. No preferences." Calshott scribbled a note in the file. "I mean we can't really guarantee things but some people like to think of their once-loved in a particular environment and we do try to accommodate."
"People tell you where they want their wives or girlfriends abducted to?"
"Yes, of course. Last month, lovely girl, husband very distressed to discover she had been cheating on him with a gentleman of, I think, Saudi origins. Husband absolutely insisted we find her a place in the Gulf. Another girl refused point blank to go on holiday to Vietnam with her boyfriend. That was the final straw. He'd always wanted to go there. He thought she should see more of it too."
"Sorry, excuse me, sorry," a tall girl, smartly efficient in a business suit but clutching a coffee mug in one hand, a plate of toast in the other and with her brief case wedged under her arm, was trying to get through the space between Adrian's table and another. There wasn't enough room. Adrian pulled his chair in.
"Are you sure this is all right?" he said again, still worried about being overheard.
"Of course. Look. She's working on a job for the Monaco royal family, seems the wedding hasn't really worked out. That one over there, well let's say he's not happy with the way his investment into one young lady's pop career is working out and the gentleman with him is aiming to assist. These two have had a hand in a few of our most high profile projects." Calshott nodded towards the wall.
Adrian realised that the array of photographs of celebrities on the wall of the restaurant all showed women that had supposedly died in the last ten years. He had always dismissed conspiracy theories about celebrity deaths before. Now he wasn't so sure. "What about him?" Adrian looked across to a sinister man with a thin face and a thinner black moustache. He peered over half-moon glasses at the day's paper.
"Not the slightest idea." Calshott replied. "But it hardly matters. Please be assured our services are provided with the highest levels of discretion. Now where were we? Oh, yes, destination options?"
"No. No preference." Adrian felt it easiest to accept his host's assurances.
"Good. Easier for us. Makes the auction more open. Better prices. Lower charges for you, depending on the fees scale you opt for."