Kate O’Hara had decided at the last minute to try and find something at Harrods to fulfill her parental obligation. She needed to get a Mother’s Day gift and time was running out. Buying something for someone who either had everything or needed nothing was to say the least truly a challenge. Maybe something small with the Harrods logo would do the trick. It was too nice a day in London to waste inside shopping but the time available to procrastinate was gone. She loved London, but the weather could be a bit dreary. It seemed unfair; not enough nice days and the few nice ones seemed never to fall on the weekends, except for, of course, today. Kate decided to take the tube to the store. Normally, she would have taken a cab, but it was also the last weekend before month-end and payday was Monday.
She browsed the wine department, looking a little at the wine and a lot at her fellow shoppers. One in particular, a distinguished gentleman, seemed vaguely familiar, Greek if she were to guess, was there with a buyer. He was obviously a regular and seemed to be ordering for more than this weekend. She thought she overheard the clerk refer to him as Mr. Christakos. She realized the man must be Charalamambos Christakos, the Greek shipping tycoon, who owned one of the largest if not the largest oil tanker fleets in the world. She also recalled from research she had done on a story for the Wall Street Journal that he owned a Greek island, a larger one than those usually owned. She could see why he was quite the lady’s man. She finally settled on a bottle of French Merlot the clerk had informed her that the vintage was acceptable. She bought it and made her way to the side exit of the store.
Kate emerged from the store and turned right toward Old Brompton Road. She had chosen that exit because of its fewer tourists. It also happened to be the entrance where the limousines waited. Usually, there were two or three cars parked, motors off, with the drivers visiting with each other as they waited for their charges. But something seemed out of place. Maybe it was because of her training as a reporter, an observer of people, places and things that something seemed out of place. Today unusually all the cars had their engines running, almost like they were getaway cars. As she waited outside the store trying to sort out her feelings, Mr. Christakos emerged from the store. As he came out she could see that he was looking for someone, someone obviously important to him.
As she stood there Kate saw a woman waving. She noticed that Christakos had also seen this same woman. She was obviously beckoning to him, motioning for him to come to her. The woman waving was a strikingly beautiful Eurasian. What male would not come, Kate thought.
As he stepped off the curb, things seemed to go into slow motion. The first car jumped forward, cutting off pedestrian traffic from the street. The back car leapt backward. It blocked nearly the entire street from traffic moving toward Old Brompton Road. The woman continued to waive enticingly and Christakos continued across the street to meet her. It was then that a black Mercedes came flying around the corner. Charalamambos Christakos had no chance. The car struck him going at least 30 miles per hour. He flew over the car like a mannequin. He was dead before he hit the pavement. The black Mercedes continued down the street, squeezing through the space left by the back limousine.
The woman who had been waving to him moved quickly to the remaining car and got in. Kate noticed that all the cars on the scene were black Mercedes and were all leaving at once, obviously following preplanned routes. In less than 40 seconds all the cars had sped off. For those short seconds it was eerily quiet. A lifeless body lay awkwardly in the street, blood flowing from his mouth and ears. The rest of the shoppers were stunned into silence. Then chaos broke out. People were screaming, cars honking and then the distinctive sound of a police siren wailing.