Across Continents

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Professed innocence

Did, enquired Gregory, I work for MI5 or MI6? I smiled, assured him no. Bit of an odd question I thought, because, whether you did or didn’t, the answer should always be the same. No. Just like the sort of thing you’d often find on visa applications. Are you engaged in terrorism? Tick yes for a full body cavity search.. Tempted to pose my usual teaser, what of MI one through four, the ones you never hear about. But I resisted.

Gregory, wife Sylvie and their young children had just returned from the Middle East. Both were professors. Business and finance. Stopped, as I had done, for a brief coffee in Terrace, the first town inland from Prince Rupert some hundred miles or so back on the coast.

We chatted about were I’d been. Gregory had set up various academic programmes in China and was familiar with quite a few of the cities I’d passed through. Urumqi. Wuhan. And the former Soviet Republics of Central Asia. Spoke, he told me, Russian. Without an accent. Originally from Silesia in Poland.

I’d reached Terrace an hour or so earlier. Ridden around for a while, looking for somewhere to stop for refreshment. But I’d not felt comfortable there. The saw mill had been closed for a while, the place down on its luck. The Dollar Shop. Another establishment offering advances on pay cheques. A few homeless individuals sat around.

So I’d decided to head out to where I was staying, five or six miles out of town. Coming across a small coffee shop in what seemed to be a more secure neighbourhood. And with a spot where I could leave the bike in full view.

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