The trouble began when JP and I met Lucy, and I suppose he and I should feel responsible for what followed. But frankly if it hadn't been for the dead attaché, we wouldn't have met her, we wouldn't have become friends, and she would have gone on to one of those posh colleges and married some rich bastard as the rest of her sort do. But you know something? I sure as hell don't feel responsible. If someone ought to take the rap, blame it on those cloak-and-dagger games that governments play.
In truth, none of us was particularly surprised to learn that the kidnapped diplomat had turned up dead. We all grew up with the idea that diplomats are fairly easily sacrificed pawns in the dirty-tricks games everyone likes to call international politics. I mean you try to keep your lot safe and alive, but if a few get knocked off, well, things happen. Nature of the game and all that.
It was an evening like any other: my parents bathed the baby, while my sister and I watched television. "Could you bring me an extra towel," my mum called out, sticking her head out of the bathroom. That was the code.
All our family conversations happened in the bathroom, in urgent whispers as the taps ran full blast and my baby brother squealed and splashed in the water. Lucky he enjoyed water – he must have been the single most bathed kid in the world. (That kid also spent much of his childhood being photographed against strategic installations. I can just imagine some hotshot general using a red laser pointer, tracing the nuclear power plant in the background, and triangulating the target from the baby smiling in the corner.)
We all knew this was the second dead diplomat in a couple of months, and nebulous threats were emanating nearly daily from shadowy groups against diplomatic staff from all nations. The only rule seemed to be that if your country wasn't the one paying the assassin, you made a fair target.