The Interrogator

The Interrogator by Andrew Williams

Book: The Interrogator by Andrew Williams Read Free Book Online
Authors: Andrew Williams
watch, ‘And we will be leaving in ten minutes.’
    Mohr watched Lindsay and the others drift out of earshot. Something was niggling him, a faint but persistent echo. What was it? There was something about Lindsay that seemed inexplicably familiar.
    After a few minutes, Thompson walked briskly away, his trophy prisoner no longer a concern. Lindsay and Cooper turned back to Mohr, deep in conversation. They had gone no more than a few steps when there was a blinding white flash. A savage growl seemed to roll up the Mersey towards them. Mohr threw himself face down on the rough cobbles. A chunk of steel plate clanged on to the quay close by and the sky was suddenly alive with the whistle and crash of shellfire.
    ‘The ammunition ship.’ Cooper was lying a few feet away. ‘She must have been sent to every corner of the city.’
    Mohr lifted his head a little and caught Lindsay’s eye and in that instant, in the pandemonium, it came to him where he had seen the man before and he began to laugh, laugh out loud.

13
     
    N

o mention was made in the BBC bulletin of the two thousand people killed or of the homes destroyed, no mention even of the city, although everyone knew the censor’s ‘port in the north-west’ was Liverpool. In the Citadel the cost was carefully calculated, but in tons of food and fuel burnt, in ships sunk and berths damaged.
    Mary had spoken to Lindsay on the telephone but he had not wanted to talk of Liverpool and by then the bombs were falling on London again. She had returned home very late one night to find Lord North Street closed and St John’s Church in Smith Square burning like a torch. For more than an hour she had stood and watched the fire as if at the bedside of a dying friend, and reflected on the strange world she inhabited at the Citadel, where a church counted for so much less than a tanker.
    The list of ships lost in the Atlantic was longer every week and yet the fog in which those in Room 41 had always worked was clearing a little. There were days when bold black track lines criss-crossed the main submarine plot with certainty and the enemy pinheads sported numbers like
U-552
and
U-96
. And every day the mountain of signals on Mary’s desk rose a little higher. The Citadel was a jealous master. She spoke to Lindsay on the telephone when she could but it was often after midnight and their conversations would peter out in weary frustrated silence.
    At the time it had seemed like a coincidence but later, when she reflected on her exchange with Rodger Winn, she was not so sure. It was early afternoon on the day she had arranged to meet Lindsay after almost a fortnight apart. Winn had just returned from a meeting with the Director of Naval Intelligence and was talking to one of the watch-keepers in his office. Mary glanced up from the anti-submarine warfare bulletin she was reading and across at him. He caught hereye and smiled. A few minutes later the watch-keeper, Lieutenant Herbert, tapped her on the shoulder: ‘Rodger says can you leave that for a moment, he’d like a word.’
    She found Winn leaning back in his chair, hands behind his head. He sighed loudly as Mary stepped into the room.
    ‘You look weary, Rodger.’ She sat down opposite him. ‘Perhaps you’re pushing yourself a little too hard.’ It was more familiar than she had ever been with Winn but his smile suggested he was touched by her concern.
    ‘I am tired, Mary, tired of other people’s stupidity. No, no, I don’t mean you.’
    ‘You’re not about to give me a dressing-down?’
    ‘No. Whatever for? You’ve really taken to this work – much more reliable than the chaps here.’ He paused for a moment to light a cigarette, then said: ‘How much do you know about Station X?’
    ‘Almost nothing, except that we have a lot to thank them for. Frankly I’ve been too frightened to ask.’
    ‘You know, the special intelligence we’re getting now is just the tip of the iceberg,’ said Winn. ‘In the weeks to

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