He’d set the wheels in motion. He’d purchased three phones at three different shops, giving the number of the second to his contact back in Bolivia. This had been in code of course, just in case his conversation was being picked up and listened to more intently by one of the listening posts designed to do such things. He’d dropped the first phone in a bin as soon as he’d finished the call, having first made sure it was turned off. The second, now turned on and awaiting a call, rested in one of his suit pockets. He had, he was sure, done everything he needed to ensure that the cell couldn’t be traced.
He used the third phone to call around the local hospitals, just in case Riaz had been hurt and taken to one of them. Raoul didn’t think he would have been. News of an injury, a serious one at least that needed hospital treatment, would surely have been included in the newspaper report he’d read. He could have made up a story and pretended to be seeking news on someone other than Riaz, but he didn’t bother. He did though always claim to be Riaz’s brother. He knew that if he didn’t his enquiries would automatically be met by a refusal to disclose any information. There were only three hospitals local enough for Riaz to have been taken to really, but he included another two a little further away, just in case there were injuries requiring a specialism that one of the local ones couldn’t provide. On the off chance that one or more of his calls raised a flag he made each from a different location, driving a few miles before finding somewhere suitable to pull up and dial one of the numbers on the handwritten list he’d made on a visit to an internet café. He guessed that being in a city there would be a fair few phone masts picking up signals, and that each move ensured he’d be using a different one. To be extra safe, he turned the phone off between calls. That should make it much harder, if not impossible, for anyone to triangulate his location.
None of his enquiries led him to think he’d located Riaz. It didn’t mean he definitely wasn’t at one of them of course. The hospitals could have been instructed not to give out any information under any circumstances or Riaz might have been admitted under a different name, but he didn’t think so. He’d become quite accomplished at reading answers over the years, often learning as much from what wasn’t said, or pauses, or how someone replied as from the actual words used. He was satisfied that, for now at least, this was an avenue not worth pursuing.
He made sure the phone was turned off before stepping out of the car. There were no bins that he could see, so he buried it deep in a convenient hedge before returning to the vehicle.
He was sure that Riaz wouldn’t be returning to the flat. Even if he hadn’t been injured or wasn’t now safely with the authorities, he’d surely have been too suspicious that the explosion hadn’t been an accident. And even if this wasn’t the case, the blast must have left the place uninhabitable for the time being. Then there was Riaz’s workplace. Raoul thought it unlikely that Riaz would be stupid enough to go back there even if he was able, but it was the only other lead right now. His drives between calls deliberately hadn’t been in that direction. He checked his map for the best route, leaving it open on the passenger seat next to him just in case, before pulling away and heading there.
It was lunchtime by the time he’d arrived and found somewhere suitable to park that overlooked the factory’s entrance. His vigil at first showed him people entering and leaving the building, but none was Riaz. Shortly after his arrival he noted the woman he’d previously seen Riaz with returning. She was with two other women, one of whom he recognised from earlier visits. The other he was fairly sure he hadn’t seen before. As lunchtime flowed into early afternoon the number of people coming and going dropped considerably. There were a few, either delivery people bringing or taking parcels or visitors dressed in suits. The watch was dull and he was sorely tempted to pass the time reading but that would risk missing something, even if he glanced up frequently. He contented himself with turning on the car’s radio, and tuning it to a talk station that was broadcasting a play. He amused himself by trying to guess how long each of the visitors would spend inside before coming back out again. Delivery people were easy, virtually going straigt in and out again. The suits usually stayed longer. Probably going into meetings he guessed. It was late afternoon when the woman who he’d seen with Riaz before left, this time accompanied by someone in a suit. It was still quite a while before work was due to end, but she was carrying a couple of bags which made him think she wasn’t intending to return that day.
His decision to follow them was a snap one, but his observation till then had afforded nothing else that seemed to offer a possibility of finding his target. The fact she was leaving early and in the company of someone who looked at least as if he had a certain amount of authority made Raoul think that perhaps he wasn’t the only one looking for Riaz, and that perhaps this woman might know something that could be useful. Following wasn’t easy. The pair were on foot but he had no way of knowing how long that would stay the case, so it seemed more sensible to stick with the hire car. It was difficult to keep them in sight yet do so in a way that wouldn’t be noticed, especially as the road they were walking down was quite busy. He was almost relieved when they hopped on a bus. In many ways it was far easier to follow. His relief didn’t last long though as they alighted after only a few stops. When they turned into a residential street shortly afterwards, and from there into one of the houses, he pulled up a little way past them. Once they’d gone inside, he moved again, turning around and finding somewhere he could stop properly and keep the house’s door in sight. There had been no sign that either of the two had noticed him.
He saw a light come on downstairs but there was no other movement from the house as the the late afternoon faded into darkness. The road was fairly quiet to start with, becoming busier when it was time for people to start making their way home. He’d seen no-one else enter or leave the house he was watching through the door the two had entered by, though he had watched as someone turned into the same sort drive and opened another door a little further away. Others too had acted similarly at some of the other houses. He concluded that each large building had been converted into smaller ones, but each with a separate entrance. It would have been far harder to be certain that the man he saw leave was the same as the one who’d entered with the woman, if it wasn’t for the light shining down from the street lamp right outside. As it was, the figure was clearly illuminated and while the face might have been difficult to recognise, the clothing was distinguishable enough.
He waited until there was no-one on the street to see him climb out of the car, lock it behind him, and walk briskly over to the house. This woman might know where Riaz was. Or have an idea. Or might not. Finding out one way or the other wouldn’t be particularly difficult.