An excerpt from: The Bonner Prediction – a NATO thriler, for International Dog Day. Louie is a Cane Corso, adept at both defence and attack. In this scene, he has earned (trust me) a little down time.
05:14:31 ZULU Time
“I’ll sweep the house.” Bonner puts the keys on the dining room table.
“That’s fastidious.” Bess looks at her watch. “It’s a quarter past one in the morning. Who’s going to visit?”
Bonner gives her a closer than usual look to make sure she is kidding. She winks and sets out to find dishes. He stops her with a hand on her arm.
“Are you familiar with NATO safe houses?”
“Nope – never been in one.”
“Don’t try to use the back door.” Bonner points through the kitchen. “It’s wired with explosives.”
“You call this a ‘safe’ house?’
“Makes it safer for us.” He removes his hand. “It will explode if someone aggressively attempts to break it down.” He smiles. “We can also detonate if from here, if necessary,”
“But this wasn’t your idea?”
“No – alas.” He starts away with his handheld. “But I approve.”
The house is conventional in its layout, ready for a family. She wonders if there are families any more. If these buildings have been relegated as guest accommodations, she doubts either diplomats or military travel with a family.
She removes the food from the containers and places it on dishes. As she puts them in the microwave, Bonner passes with his electronic handheld. She thought he might give only a cursory search (no one can possibly know they are staying here) but – no.
The walls, the light fixtures, the electrical outlets, the appliances, the taps, the windows, the doors are all given a sweep for tell tale signs of transmission. The doors are closed and their locks are tested. As with any place of sanctuary, every room can become a ‘safe’ room. If this dwelling is like others she has experienced, the windows can even withstand an RPG.
When Bonner is finished, he goes to the cupboards and removes napkins. On his way past the fridge he takes out a bottle of wine. He shakes his head disapprovingly.
“Screw top.” Bonner carries the wine and napkins to the table. “Not the usual standards of NATO.”
“I was planning on Sprite.” She looks toward the kitchen as the microwave beeps. “NATO lives it up while we Swiss live in parsimony.”
“If NATO inclined towards having us live it up, they would have put us in more graceful accommodations.” Bonner twists off the cap. “At least it’s white.”
“Where’s the dog food?”
“They’re a tidy group. I bet food will be in the kitchen.”
As Bess takes the food from the microwave and hunts for plates, Bonner searches for dog food. Not only does he find a bag in the corner, together with a foil pack of dog treats, but there are two shiny, new, metal dog bowls – one for food, one for water. Bonner guesses that a member of the supply personnel is a dog lover and raided the stores of the guard dogs.
“Two scoops.” Bess is putting the salad into a bowl.
“What about treats?”
“After.” She looks at him. “I bet you don’t have kids, either.”
“Nope.” Bonner puts two generous handfuls of food into the dish. “I’d make a lousy father.” He runs water from the tap then fills the other bowl. “There’s time.”
“Not that much time.” Bess takes their food to the dining table.
“Ouch.” Bonner has little interest pursuing this thread. He opens a cupboard and takes out two wine glasses. “Louie is fed and watered.” He carries the glasses to the table. “And now, soon to be us.”
Bess looks over to Louie. He is attentive to her, but also has side glances to the kitchen. She waits until he is only looking at her, and then makes a hand gesture.
Louie is out of the room before Bonner can pick up the wine bottle. His claws clatter across the kitchen floor, quickly followed by crunching and the scrape of the dog bowl on wood.
“He’s not going to savour, is he?”
“Nope.” Bess takes her wine glass. She is about to take a drink but stops. She extends the glass toward Bonner. “It’s been a night.”
“But our wee family is safe to home.” Bonner clinks her glass. “Though Louie’s table manners could be more refined.”