Thirteen people of various ages and from varying backgrounds are walking, sitting and standing in the hotel lobby when I push my way in through the revolving glass doors. They are of no interest to me. I need to find Gus. He has the package.
I’ve travelled from icy Petersburg, through six European countries by train to my final destination: Paris. Gus, I’ve been told, will be instantly recognisable, but not how. This is what I do. This is what I’m trained for.
Twenty paces to my right I spot a balding man sitting on a two-seater cream sofa at the far end of the lobby reading a book, The Time Traveler’s Wife. This is Gus. I walk towards him, not fast not slow. I make eye contact with three people and smile at two. He continues reading as I lower myself into the arm chair opposite him and order a cappuccino from the reedy waiter, who is hovering desperately. This is all part of the ritual. He mimics my order, I know it’s him.
“Could you pass me ze sugar, please?” Gus asks in a thick French accent.
“Of course,” I pass him the glass dish and he stirs in two sticks of raw cane sugar and taps the edge of the cup with the delicate silver spoon three times before putting it down on the gold-edged porcelain saucer. This is not part of the routine; this is a habit of Gus’.
He leans to his right and hands me a brown paper bag. I don’t know what’s in it, I don’t ask.
He drinks half of his coffee and bids me a good day. Enjoying my first decent coffee in two weeks, I finish it and eat the complimentary biscotti before leaving the lobby. My gloved hand pushes the swing door open; I wince in the sudden sunlight and quickly retrieve my sunglasses. Whatever is in this bag is heavy.
I feel the vibration of my phone in my inside jacket pocket and flip the slim model open.
[Your next assignment: shoot the messenger.]
I’m not surprised, nothing surprises me anymore. The monitor, linked to the tracking device I’d slipped into Gus’ pocket, tells me he’s two roads north and one east. I pick up the pace and hope to be done by dusk as I’m due to meet my mother for dinner at six.
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Flash Fiction is short enough to read whilst you're waiting for the kettle to boil. It's fairly quick to write too, but with it being so short, every word has to count.
On 4th May 2012 I decided to embark on a project: to write a piece of Flash Fiction every day. I'm hoping this will keep the creative juices flowing and ultimately help me hone my craft. Every Friday I'll be posting 'the best of the week' onto my blog for you to read. If you have anything to say (good or 'constructive'!), I'm open to comments.
Thanks, as always, for reading.