The Ninth Victim – Except 8

After Fouchet had departed, Valjean lifted his suitcase onto the bed. He opened it, flicked a concealed switch which in turn opened a hidden compartment. Valjean shuffled through the contents for a moment, then muttered to himself, ‘Perfect!’ as he examined a press card in the name of Alain Garnier. An alias he had used occasionally in the past.

He rang the Hotel reception and asked if they had a local telephone directory that he might have the use of. They agreed to send one to his room immediately. Valjean thanked them and rang off. Within moments there was a rap on his door, he opened it and there stood a young maid with the requested directory, ‘Merci’ he said, and gave her a generous tip.

After he had closed the door, he sat in a chair and skipped through the pages, he felt sure that de Peysac would have a ‘phone installed. He quickly found it, phone No. and address. He dialled the number, after a couple of rings it was answered, Hello, de Peysac, may I be of assistance. The voice came as a surprise to Valjean, well spoken, one might even say cultured not at all what Valjean had expected.

‘Monsieur de Peysac, my name is Alain Garnier I am a freelance journalist, I am in Carcassone for a few days and wondered if you would be so kind as to allow me to do an in -depth interview with you. I have interest from Paris Match and other magazines.

‘I could spare you a couple of hours this afternoon, if that is convenient, at say 2.30 p.m. ‘That would be perfect, Monsieur de Peysac, thank you so much,’ stated Valjean.’Please call me Marcel, I don’t stand on formalities with the press,’ insisted de Peysac.’Thank you so much Marcel, that is very kind of you.’ ‘Not at all, Alain, I look forward to meeting you this afternoon.’ and with that he rang off.

Valjean slightly perplexed, reached into his pocket and took out a packet of Gauloise, selected one and lit it. Once he had inhaled a few mouthfuls, he began to relax. Marcel de Peysac had surprised him, he was not at all what Valjean had expected, instead of the rough uneducated felon. He had been greeted by what appeared to be an urbane and cultured man.

If his past experiences were anything to go by, this kind of thing never happened. To his way of thinking once a con, always a con. But maybe de Peysac was the exception to the rule, Valjean looked forward to their meeting with some anticipation.

(C) Damian Grange 2020

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