The small device he’d purchased from his U.K. contacts was more than suitable. He could have constructed his own of course, he knew how to do it and would have been able to do so quite easily. This was cleverly constructed though. It had been fairly easy to find out that the flat Riaz was in had a gas supply. The internet held answers to many things if you knew where and how to look.. It hadn’t taken significant effort to find an advert for when the flat was last offered, which listed its gas oven and gas central heating. What he had bought wasn’t actually a bomb as such. It would work with the gas supply to create the explosion. Better still, the mechanism itself would leave little trace. Not enough to be immediately apparent anyway. And he only needed a couple of days to make sure it had achieved its aim then leave the country. This should buy him enough time to do that without the added pressure of a manhunt for him. Even if the authorities discovered it hadn’t been an accident, by the time they did he would already be back in Bolivia.
Riaz’s small flat which he’d quickly let himself into, the Yale lock providing no real resistance to his expert hands, was adequately enough lit by the afternoon sunlight to not need any further lighting for him to accomplish his task. He’d followed Riaz as usual that morning to be sure the pattern hadn’t changed. He’d had a breath holding moment when Riaz had emerged at lunchtime but it was only to visit the same shop he’d used on previous occasions. This time, unusually, his trip wasn’t made solo but in the company of a woman he’d left the factory with, a colleague no doubt. He’d followed loosely on the other side of the street and seen them safely back to the factory. Raoul was confident that Riaz would, as usual, spend the afternoon there. Driving the short distance from Riaz’s workplace to his home had taken only a few minutes.
He looked around quickly. He knew that Riaz wouldn’t be returning for several hours yet and was sure that his entry hadn’t been detected but he wanted to be out again as soon as possible, as usual minimising any risk he might be taking. There was no hallway, the door opening directly onto a living and dining room. There were four other doors out of the room. Three of these, Raoul assumed, would be to a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. He quickly checked his assumption. The door to the kitchen was already ajar and it took only a moment to glance in and confirm its purpose. The other two were closed. He opened them using his coat cuff to turn the handle and looked in each. Everything was as he’d thought. He closed them again. He made sure he made no noise. He didn’t believe there would be anyone else in the small flat. He hadn’t seen any signs of life when he’d been watching besides that of Riaz’s departure and arrival to and from work. He was more concerned with a neighbour overhearing. The walls here were no doubt quite thin so any sound he made would be easily carried. He didn’t want his presence noticed in the supposedly empty flat.
The fourth door was very near to the one he’d entered the flat by. Although it looked no different to the others, Raoul instinctively felt this would be a cupboard. He opened the door the same way as he had the others, and was rewarded to find he was right. Better yet, while there were shelves on one side containing a myriad of odds and sods and hooks opposite holding a small selection of coats and jackets, at the back was the boiler which provided hot water for the heating. It had been kept clear of clutter. Riaz was obviously conscious that it should be. It was a reasonable assumption that Riaz would open the cupboard sooner or later, probably as soon as he returned to the flat to hang his coat up. Loosening a connection on the boiler to create a gas leak took only a few moments. The device had a movement sensor that would create the spark when the door was opened that would ignite the gas. All it needed was for the device to be set then placed on the shelf positioned to face the door. The door opened outwards, so Raoul carefully placed one of the coats on the floor. Once the door was closed again, it probably wouldn’t stop gas seeping out entirely, but would do so enough to minimise any chance of Riaz being alerted by the smell of the leak. Satisfied with these arrangements, Raoul pressed the button on the device that would activate the movement sensor after a few seconds, then closed the door. It was far less than five minutes after first stepping inside the flat that he quietly stepped out again, closing the door gently behind him.
Returning to his car, he climbed in and drove away. There was no point in waiting at the flat for Riaz to return. He drove to a park a few streets away, leaving his car in an uncontrolled space he was lucky enough to stumble across. He took his book, as different one now as he’d finished the one he’d brought with him, and sat reading it on a bench he soon found. The day was warm and pleasant and he opened his jacket to better absorb the rays that fell on him. He read, sipping now and then from the bottle of cola he’d brought with him, until it had become too dark to easily see the words on the page. It would soon be time for Riaz to leave work and start his homeward journey anyway. He closed the book and retraced his steps to the hire car. He intended to park up near to Riaz’s flat. He didn’t need line of sight this time – he was sure that so long as he was somewhere nearby he’d ear the explosion when it happened, and being already in the car could leave straight away before any response services arrived. He hoped that Riaz wouldn’t choose to visit the bar again tonight as he’d done on the first night and several of the other nights Raoul had shadowed him. It didn’t really matter much if he did, of course, but it would mean Raoul would have a longer wait.
When he arrived back at the street the flat was on there was no space for him to park in, a problem he hadn’t encountered before. He drove around the block several times, waiting for something suitable to become vacant. When the first one did, it was taken immediately by another vehicle that was waiting there. He cursed to himself and drove around the block again, this time stopping at the beginning of the street with his hazard lights on and eagerly watching every pedestrian as they approached the parked vehicles, hoping one of them would be an owner returning to collect a car. Eventually he was rewarded for his wait. He’d almost missed it. Another car had up at the other end of the street, its driver obviously trying the same ruse as Raoul, and he was busy watching that when a red Dotson pulled out of a spot and sped away. He quickly pulled into it, trying not to look directly at the other driver as she passed, though feeling the usual need to do so. A short while later she too found a space, having gone around the block and waited again. She didn’t look at him or at his car as she passed, now clutching a handbag and a case that looked as though it held a laptop computer. She turned into one of the houses by where he was parked.
He didn’t read now. There was no natural light and he didn’t want to draw attention to his presence by turning on the car’s internal one. Instead he had the radio playing music very quietly while he watched in the direction Riaz would appear from. A little over half an hour later his vigil was rewarded by seeing Riaz coming up the street carrying a plastic bag holding the groceries he’d picked up at the shops on his way home. He watched as Riaz walked the final few yards he needed to, then turned and entered the door that led to his apartment. Raoul didn’t notice the scruffy black and white cat that followed Riaz into the building, nor would he have thought anything of it if he had. He turned the radio down still further as he waited a few seconds until a light clicked on in the apartment he’d worked out to be Riaz’s. Only a few more seconds passed before the window he’d been watching erupted outwards, followed immediately by the sound of the explosion.
He fired up the car’s engine and pulled out of the space into the road. He was careful not to hurry. He had plenty of time before the emergency services would arrive and, if necessary, block off the street. Besides, he didn’t want his short journey to be noticed on the camera he would pass nor any ‘real’ policemen that might happen to be between here and the hotel he was staying at. He hadn’t even moved the vehicle into fourth gear when he turned into its entrance and parked up.
When he reached the room he was staying in, he took off his suit and carefully hung it up before climbing on top of the bed and opening up his book to continue reading again from where he’d left off. He’d dress more casually later and eat at the hotel’s restaurant. The food here was adequate rather than good, but it would help him avoid the temptation to return to the scene of the blast to stay in the hotel, rather than find somewhere better among the many places nearby that offered diners a variety of choices.
It would be too soon for the explosion to make the local paper, even the late edition. He’d check tomorrow’s. Even in London, he was sure, such an incident wouldn’t go unreported.
The next morning he varied his usual routine by not heading off to watch Riaz’s apartment, heading directly instead to the Simone’s. He left the hotel later than usual, so as to arrive at the shop at about his regular time. He bought his normal newspaper, and one of the local ones offered, along with the usual carton of milk and bags of sweets.
He walked the short distance up to the Simone’s house, pausing for a while to chat with the old lady wit the dog. Her bag was empty this time, she was travelling in the opposite direction – down to the shop to fill it up rather than coming from it. Having exchanged a few pleasantries with her, he continued on to the Simone’s, using the key to let himself in. he did everything, in short, that he usually did.
Once inside the house he handed bags of sweets to each of the children, something they’d come to expect now, and exchanged a few words with Mrs. Simone. He usually didn’t bother to read the paper, but for a change scanned through the local one he’d bought. He wasn’t surprised to find that it contained no news of the explosion. It was, after all, only a matter of hours since it had happened. The paper had probably already gone to press when it had, or had done so shortly after, too soon in any event for its inclusion in the paper’s output. He left the Simone’s at about the same time as he usually did, spending the day as a proper tourist, this time choosing to visit the busy West End shops, though he didn’t burden himself with any purchases. In the late afternoon he bought an edition of the ‘Evening Standard’ and took it to a coffee shop read through. The day was another pleasant one so he chose to sit outside on one of the tables that lined the street along the front of the shop. Occasional gusts of wind tried to turn the pages for him as he tried to scan the paper.
Eventually he found what he was looking for. The article was very small – a few lines only – and included no news of any death, only of the explosion itself. Even if a fatality didn’t result in the story being bigger, it would surely have been at least mentioned in the report. So, it seemed that his attempt had been unsuccessful for some reason. He didn’t spend too long wondering why this was the case, though he couldn’t help it to a certain extent. If nothing else understanding this failure might be useful in future assignments. He now knew his mission had become much harder. Although there was no indication right now that the police thought the explosion suspicious, they would no doubt put two and two together and soon realise that Riaz had been a target. They’d probably offer him sanctuary while they searched for whoever had committed the act.
He finished his coffee, and left the cup and saucer on the table he’d been sitting at. The first thing he needed to do was to trace Riaz again, and to do that he’d need to use the same contact as had provided the information in the first place. He might not be traceable of course, if he was now safely wit the police. Perhaps the contact could also find that out. He’d use a pay-as-you-go mobile to call back to Bolivia to start the process moving. He was already walking down the street, casting about for a suitable shop to fill his needs.