He rose early the next morning and breakfasted at the hotel’s small restaurant as soon as it opened. He took the hot meal offered, preferring this to the cold European alternative. He’d rather have enjoyed an American breakfast with hot waffles and pancakes sweetened with the ever present maple syrup he liked so much, but he made do with the English one he’d been offered.
While he munched through this he checked out the address he had for his U.K. contacts in the street map he’d purchased the night before. It was quite a distance, way across on the other side of the city. He thought about this as he used the time to eat more of the breakfast in front of him. He decided to get a taxi there. He could have used the Underground, which he knew to be free, but it also would have many security cameras. He had no firm reason to believe that his presence in the U.K. might have raised any flags or that the authorities might be looking for him, but there was no point in taking unnecessary risks. Using a cab would be more private.
After retrieving his Gomez ID, he took a leisurely walk back down to the main street he’d been on the previous night, once the shops that lined it would be open. Here he bought a cheap prepaid mobile phone. He telephoned ahead to his U.K. contacts, letting them know of his intended arrival. They probably weren’t the sort of people you’d want to surprise by turning up unannounced, at least not as his would be a face they hadn’t seen before. He spoke rapidly into the handset, letting them know what he was after. With any luck his immediate needs would be met as soon as he arrived so that he wouldn’t have to wait around.
He hailed a cab in the street as it passed, its yellow ‘taxi’ sign illuminated to show that it was available. He headed first for the Simone’s place, wanting to get rid of the Gomez ID, as well as ensuring his continued appearance around the area. He was careful not to take the taxi all the way there, choosing instead to be dropped off near the shops he’d visited before. He was also careful to tip the driver the right amount again – not too much, not too little.
He went into the shop he’d had the long conversation in the previous afternoon and was served by the same lady as before. He chatted cheerfully with her, using broken Werlderin rather than the clear English he’d spoken in to his U.K. contacts over the phone. He purchased a newspaper and some savoury snacks, choosing to add a couple of bags of sweets to his selection as she rang them up. He wasn’t hungry nor particularly interested in any news the paper might convey, the main purpose of his visit being to be seen.
Having done this he walked purposely back towards the Simone’s house, stopping along the way to talk with an old lady who was struggling up the kerb with a laden wheeled bag and accompanied by a Yorkshire terrier. He helped her with her burden and hated to her about her dog. He didn’t have one himself, he told her, his business travel keeping him away too often to look after one properly, but he wished he did. This was essentially the truth, though he was more than wealthy enough to be able to afford to pay someone to take care of it when he was away if he really wanted one. Sticking to the truth, whenever this didn’t give identifying details away, was easier to remember than a lie, if he ever needed to do so.
He left the old lady and was soon at the Simone’s front door. He let himself into the house using the key he’d been given when he first arrived. He’d no doubt have received one if he’d been a real guest and using it would reinforce is claims if his arrival had been noticed by any curtain twitching neighbours.
He announced himself, though the Simone family wasn’t expecting anyone else to arrive, certainly not someone else wit a front door key at least. He handed the packets of sweets to the two small children who ran down the hallway to greet his arrival, curious as to who this stranger might be. They might actually be a problem if he had to use his alibi, innocently giving away to any enquiries that he wasn’t in fact staying there at all. It wasn’t a problem he’d been faced with when he’d used this method before, something he’d have to be sure to take into account next time he did so. He thought briefly about demanding they be sent away. He dismissed the thought. Their absence would be noticed by neighbours, and a mother separated from young children would be unusual to say the least and commented on if asked. He didn’t expect to have to use the alibi anyway and would make sure the kids were kept away from any questioning by the mother if it happened. He told her about this, in a low voice, when she too appeared in the hallway, still drying her hands on a small towel she was carrying.
He left her, following the directions he’d been given up to a guest bedroom on the second floor. It was actually the first, but he’d learned his English and used it mostly in the U.S.A. so it was more American than English really, and the second floor was what it would have been called there. It was hard sometimes to remember that there were often subtle differences in the two languages.
He unpacked the suitcase that was lying in the middle of the double bed. He hung the clothes in the wardrobe even making a small pile of dirty linen below it so that the room took on a more lived in feel. He set his Gomez ID and credit cards in a wallet on the bedside table, so that it appeared forgotten rather than deliberately left. It already contained cash and one or two other cards that identified him as ‘Gomez’ – a video store membership and a library card.
Having given the room what he felt was a proper appearance he left it again, giving Mrs. Simone more instructions before heading back out into the street again. He walked back to the main street, and hailed a cab from there to take him to his more clandestine meeting.
It was, as his map had shown him, quite a long journey over to this second destination. He spent it in silence for the most part, his monosyllabic answers telling the jolly taxi drivers he was not encouraging conversation. The driver’s attempts to engage him soon dried up. He again made sure he was set down a short distance from his desired destination, and had difficulty finding the place at first. The address he was looking for turned out to be that of a small yard with a terrapin in one corner that acted as an office. The yard was littered with scrap cars most dented or more badly damaged. The yard provided cheap spare parts to those that knew of its existence and was more or less profitable in itself as well as providing a front for their other less legal activities.
They had already procured him a car, the main purpose of this visit. Hiring one himself would have been difficult without credit cards to back up his newly acquired ID. These were his second request but the need for them was less immediate. He had more than enough cash to last several days, and access to more if he really needed it. He also took a gun, a 9mm pistol complete with a box of spare rounds. He didn’t think he’d need it, especially in a country where any police officers he came in contact with were unlikely to be armed themselves, but felt more comfortable now that he had it ‘just in case’.
He paid for his purchases by transferring funds from a Swiss account he’d set up just for the purpose. It was about the only thing he used repeatedly. He didn’t leave a lot in it, transferring money there as assignments arose and he thought he might need to use it. That way, should he ever need to abandon it he could just walk away without any great loss. They accepted his payment keenly, assuring him that the cards would be ready for him in a few days and that if he had any further requirements they were certain they’d be able to help.
He returned to the street to find the newly hired Nissan that waited there for him. Everything about the car was perfectly legal, even the insurance cover note that he now carried securely in one of his suit jacket pockets proclaiming to anyone that cared to read it that the vehicle was covered for ‘Adam Johnson’. In the unlikely event that providing it was followed up by more detailed enquiries he’d been assured that everything would check out.
It was still quite early in the day when he arrived at Riaz’s workplace. Tracing that hadn’t been much harder than tracing his address, not that such things bothered Raoul. He simply paid for the information. Whether getting it was easy or difficult was someone else’s problem, though the more difficult it was likely to be to get hold of, the more he had to pay. In this case though he’d not needed to fund this expense himself. The details had been handed over with the other documentation that made up his assignment. Getting hold of information that Riaz had relocated to the U.K. had probably been quite expensive to start with, but one they’d traced him to there the more detailed information would have been cheap to obtain.
Besides, money wasn’t an object for Fuente or for the men handling his affairs now that his incarceration meant he couldn’t do it for himself. The drugs business he was in was very lucrative, still so even though many of the routes he used to get his wares out of the country were starting to dry up. The import / export businesses he’d bought up, or in one case had started himself from scratch, which provided cover for a lot of his shipments, were quite profitable in themselves as legitimate businesses without the added monies that using them as fronts for his drugs trade provided. Fuente had long ago branched out into other profitable areas, prostitution and smuggling people into the U.S.A. being the main ones. Even if efforts to shut down his drugs operation were successful these enterprises, both the legal and illegal ones, would ensure a healthy supply of cash into his coffers.
Raoul didn’t work exclusively for Fuente although he was a regular, possibly his main, client. He sold his specialised service to anyone who could afford to pay and who had the right contacts to get in touch with him. The difficulty, or ease, of each assignment determined the cost. He’d even once been hired to take out one of Fuente’s own men. He’d accepted the assignment readily enough, though it had been complicated slightly by his having known the target. The reason for the assignment was personal rather than business as far as he remembered. He didn’t usually get too involved in the ‘whys’ of a case. An assignment, once accepted, was an assignment. The politics that lay behind such decisions were other people’s affairs.
The crackdown on drugs was, for the time being at least, increasing the demand for his services rather than diminishing it. Various people involved in the trade were fighting among themselves over the routes that were still working now that many they’d previously used were being cut off. He was being called on more and more to end negotiations by taking out one of the parties involved. He wondered to himself if is impartiality would extend to taking out Fuente himself or one of his lieutenants now running the operations for him. He thought probably not. Or at least not unless he got a very high price to do so. A few more assignments and he would retire from the business. He could do so now if chose to. He had more tan enough funds in various accounts to live a very comfortable life and contacts to get him more or less legitimately wherever he decided he wanted to spend his remaining – hopefully many – years. He liked the trill of is hosen profession though and would miss that when he did give it up.
He’d been lucky up till now, never caught nor even suspected, as far as he knew and as far as the money he spent trying to be sure this was the case had told him. Fuente and his men could be expected to provide many of his remaining targets. He was also one of the few people who knew Raoul’s real identity, having started him out in his chosen trade.
If Fuente thought Raoul was turning against him, suspected it even, Raoul would become an assignment for someone else, to be terminated in just as abrupt a manner. He knew enough to know that there was no certain way of stopping this happening once someone had decided on it, so long as the funds kept on coming of course.
He waited patiently at his vantage point overlooking where he expected Riaz to emerge once he’d finished his day’s labour. Twice he moved the car when the credit he’d bought on the meters that lined the street he was on ran out, and as he saw a new space become vacant. Each time he loaded the new meter with sufficient fifty cent coins to get the maximum stay that each afforded him. When Riaz finally left work Raoul followed him on foot, having already calculated that the meter at which he was currently parked had enough credit on it to last until parking became free.
He followed discreetly and at a distance, remaining outside when Riaz stopped at a small newsagent’s shop which lay on his route home. When Riaz went into a bar a bit further down the same road, Raoul did so too. He didn’t know how long Riaz planned to stay there, and hanging around trying to watch the exits from outside was more likely to get him noticed than sitting in the pub, now that he couldn’t do it from the relative safety of a vehicle.
He chose a section of the bar he entered as far from Riaz as possible and once he’d been presented with the beer he’d asked for took it to a vacant corner seat that seemed a bit gloomier than other choices. He nursed this single drink while he watched Riaz, who drank three or four pints of what appeared to be the same brew. When Riaz left he followed again, leaving his own glass unfinished. It was nearly empty anyway, so he was sure that leaving it wouldn’t attract attention.
He followed Riaz back to his small flat and from the outside saw a light click on. He waited for a while, wanting to be sure Riaz had settled in for the night but conscious that his hanging around might be spotted by unwanted eyes. He’d returned to the same wall he’d sat on the previous night, but not long after a bus had pulled up at the nearby stop. His explanation for his presence, that he was waiting for one, disappeared with the bus and there was nothing else in the mainly residential street that Riaz could use for cover to continue his vigil so he felt a little exposed. After another hour of watching, and after two more buses had come and gone, he decided that Riaz did seem to have settled in for the evening. He returned to collect his car and made his way back to the hotel he was staying at.
For the next three days he more or less repeated the process. In the mornings he used his car to await Riaz’s exit from his flat, and followed him by foot to his workplace. Once there, he left Riaz to his labours, returned to collect the Nissan, then drove to the Simone’s. He was always sure to leave the vehicle far enough away from their house that it wouldn’t be connected with his appearance. Each trip he started his visit by making small purchases at the same shop he’d used on the first two occasions. As well as newspapers and snacks he bought milk or bread and other small household items. He stayed with Mrs. Simone until it was nearing lunchtime when he returned, indirectly, to his car to mount a vigil outside Riaz’s workplace.
Twice he spied Riaz leaving and started to follow, only to find that he was visiting a local shop to make one or two purchases, lunch perhaps if he hadn’t brought it with him that day. After making these purchases Riaz returned to the factory directly. The first afternoon he spent watching the factory exit interspersed with reading more of the book he’d bought for the flight over. It was, ironically, a thriller with the hero doing much the same thing as he himself was doing. Riaz left the factory, along with his fellow workers at pretty much the same time as he had the first evening that Raoul had followed him. He called into the same shop he had done that night too, though he passed the bar this time and went straight home.
After that Raoul spent his afternoons sightseeing, but always being sure to be back watching the factory in time to see Riaz leave and to follow him back to the flat.
As the same process was repeated over the week that he watched Riaz, he decided he had enough information. Riaz was definitely a creature of habit and could be relied upon to more or less do the same things at the same times each day.
When work days were interrupted by the weekend he took the Simone family out, making a big show of their ‘friendship’. He started the Saturday by taking Mr. Simone with him to the local shop, being sure to be seen with him by the woman he’d befriended there. Then he took the family to the Tower of London, again acting in a manner that got him noticed. They rounded off the day with a meal at a small local restaurant. He made a great fuss about one of the dishes, even tough there was nothing really wrong with it. It was all designed to ensure he’d be remembered. It was dark by the time they arrived back at the Simone’s. There was no real reason to travel back to his hotel, so he stayed the night in the guest room.
The next day – a Sunday – was spent doing much the same thing, this time visiting Mme. Tussauds in the city centre. They returned to the Simone’s home in daylight this time. He made sure their appearance was noisy, hoping to be noticed by any watching neighbours and ordered a pizza for home delivery. He rewarded the young man that brought it with a lavish tip. He even stayed to help eat the meal they’d ordered.
He actually found that he enjoyed the time spent with the family, the experience being as close to normality as he could expect to achieve. They too seemed to have liked the time he spent with them. They’d been in London for several years, both children had actually been born there, but had visited neither attraction before themselves.
When it was dark he let himself out and, finding his car, drove back to the hotel he was staying at.