Sarajevo & Boracko Lake, Bosnia-Herzogovina,
Saturday, February 16th, 2019.
Another successful misdirection, and this one against the formidable John Robinson! Geistmann had snookered the librarian by stealing his own weapons (back) from the garage, which had accomplished its intended effect of diverting Robinson to Australia. Why had Geistmann bothered? Because he did not want Robinson mucking around in the imminent operation at Boracko Lake. Although he was hardly a sentimentalist, Geistmann would prefer not to be forced to kill Robinson, but ... the clever librarian had not been far off in some of his conjectures, including this one.
Geistmann reviewed the facts of the 1992 Boracko Lake massacre. Only lower-ranking soldiers had been convicted for this atrocity. The Serbian general who had been in charge had returned to Belgrade, and had not visited Bosnia-Herzegovina since the war. Also involved in the massacre had been the president of the Veterans' Organisation of Republika Srpska, who had since died of natural causes. Other participants included the notorious Bosnian Serb military chief Ratko Mladic, still incarcerated in the Hague; and Chief of Security of the Bosnian Serb Army's Main Headquarters, Ljubisa Bear, who had died in prison two years ago. That left two high-ranking officers of the army's Drina Corps and Zvornik Brigade, Colonels Kasun and Stankovic. Both had been central participants in the massacre at the Lake and several other war crimes. They had recently been released from a Scandinavian prison.
There was a second reason the two colonels were in Geistmann's crosshairs. His sources informed him that both had Swiss accounts, the numbers of which matched some of those connected with the money-laundering system of the African Cartel. Geistmann was suspicious of coincidences, but this one seemed real. Now that he had cut off the Hydra-like Cartel's heads, he was enthusiastic about attacking the circulatory system.
He had learned, from dissident Serbian sources, that the two colonels, Kasun and Stankovic, were now fortuitously present at the Lake. They were said to be enjoying a post-release junket, in the form of a week-long stay at Nebeski ("Heavenly") Lodge. They were presumably partaking of the excellent cuisine, and indulging their shared love of nature, through some semi-arduous hiking, and possibly even some hunting. That the pair could savor the environment where they had once perpetrated a mass-murder strengthened Geistmann's conviction that they richly deserved the fate they were about to meet. Checking their profiles, Geistmann found nothing to suggest that either man was a bird watcher. This helped him select the persona he would use for the operation.
As he now entered what he regarded as his Mature Period, Geistmann looked back on his career as a combination of creativity and organized mayhem. Like two of his idols, Beethoven and the bank robber, Willie Sutton, his preparation for any project followed an established modus operandi. The initial surveillance (like Sutton's) must have two features: it must be thorough, but not so protracted or transparent that he might be observed. Like late Beethoven, Geistmann's new opus would represent a capitulation of earlier ones, with brilliant variation.
Mainly, Boracko Lake would hearken back to Blue Mountain Lake, eleven years before. Of course, the analogy with the great composer was not exact. If Beethoven's late quartets had been written and performed thirteen or fourteen years after the so-called middle ones, it was because his career had been so much more multifarious than Geistmann's. No, Sutton was the better model, in this regard. Willie the Actor's work had featured only two elements, bank robbery and prison breaks. In a Geistmann operation, the elements were similar: execution and extrication. He had another, marked commonalty with the legendary American thief: both were virtuosos of disguise.
"Pardon, me, my good sir," Geistmann said, assuming his best (or worst) Oxbridge accent. His seatmate was a very fit and cosmopolitan-looking Dane, whose summer-weight herringbone suit, and the cordovan attache case above his head on the luggage rack, as well as the copy of the Wall Street Journal he was reading (folded into quarters), marked him as a prosperous Anglophone business man.
They were about ten minutes out of Sarajevo, where both had boarded the crowded nine o-clock bus to Mostar at the main station, in Novo Sarajevo. By means of an "after you," Geistmann had secured the aisle seat.
"Would you happen to know if there have been any kukavica sightings at the Lake recently?" As an indication of his genuine interest in this question, Geistmann brandished the pair of large wide-angle binoculars that were suspended from a strap around his neck. The rest of his outfit consisted of a navy-blue woolen shirt, sturdy leather hiking boots, and khaki cargo shorts much too cool for today's temperature, thirty-six degrees fahrenheit. On the rack above their shared seat was his new green duffel bag (a replacement for the one he had lost four days before, in Hawaii).
"I can't say that I do," remarked the Dane, with a whimsical smile. "Especially since I'm not sure what that is. It sounds like a bird, though." His Engish was only faintly inflected.
"Oh, yes, of course," said Geistmann, with a condescending smile and the plummy accent. "Kukavica is the Serb name for the Common Cuckoo." Geistmann relished the sound of the last word.
"Sorry," said the Dane, "but I'm not a birder. I'm going to Konjic on business." Returning to his newspaper, the man soon dropped it onto his lap and dozed off.
Fidgeting with his binoculars, "the Englishman" muttered to himself. When the bus pulled into Konjic forty minutes later, the Dane seemed to be fast asleep. Geistmann nudged him awake.
"We're here," he said. "Konjic." They had stopped in front of the main deparment store in the small town. He gestured to the vista, which was dominated by the famous Stara Kumina Cuprija, or Old Stone Bridge.
The Dane immediately appeared to be wide awake. "That's okay," he said. "I have business in Mostar first. I'll take another bus or a train back here, afterwards." He closed his eyes and appeared to drop off again.
If readers are interested in Reading Geistmann, it is available as a free PDF from the author. Please visit www.ronsinger.net for contact information.
And Geistmann in Africa (Geistman II):
Image by Julian Nyĉa
CC BY-SA 3.0