Was it just another surveillance job – Episode 18 – Revised

As we all know, writing by the seat of your pants is almost the same as flying by the seat of your pants, a hazardous occupation.

As it happens, I like writing this way because like the reader, I don’t know what to expect next.

And equally, at times, you can write your self into a corner, much like painting, and then have to go back, make a few changes and//or repairs and then move forward.

It’s part of the writing process, only in this case, the changes occur before you’ve finished the novel, if you finish.  Quite often a lot of writers get only so far, then the manuscript hits the bottom drawer, to be brought out on a distant rainy day.

Or your cat has mocked your writing ability one too many times.

Therefore, we’re winding back to Episode 16, and moving forward once again, from there.  This is episode 18 revised…

 

Ever had the heart-stopping feeling when you’re in the wrong place, and someone has interrupted you?  Especially if you shouldn’t be there, or that you have no right to be there.

I stood quietly on the inside of the door and hoped whoever the visitor was would go away.  No answer meant no one was home, didn’t it?

Unless…

I heard a key in the door, and it turn in the lock.

I moved quickly to the other side of the door so I would be shielded when the person came into the room.  Too late to get out, I was of two minds what to do.  Hit the visitor over the head and flee, or ask them what they were doing, before they asked me that same question.

Then nothing.

Until a few seconds later I heard a voice, a man, say, “Jan, you’re back.  How was the visit to Philadelphia?”

I heard the slight rattle of Jan taking her hand off the handle and moving away from the door.  “Sad, as all funerals are.  Now, we are left with the house, and my father’s stuff; a huge collection of mostly junk over a long period of time.  Seems he never threw anything out.”

Jan?  Did she live here, with O’Connell?

“Yes, “I’m a bit like that.”

Another tenant, or the building super?

“I made sure Herman was looked after while you were away.  I don’t think he missed you at all?”

She laughed.  “He’s a cat, Fred.  We belong to them, not the other way around.”

“True.  Your friend has not been in for a week or so.”

“I know.  The last message I got from him, he was in Prague, lucky bastard.  He was going to take me with him, but at the last moment, they changed his itinerary.  Perhaps next time.  I was just going to make sure everything was OK, before going home myself.”

“I could look in if you want?”

“No.  Thanks anyway, but last time I was here I left a jacket behind.  Thanks, Fred.”

A moment later I could hear his footsteps heading away, and Jan moved back to the door, and opened it.

I heard the light switch, and then, suddenly, the room was filled with bright light.

The girl was unassuming, stepped into the room, and closed the door behind her.  Before she could take a step, I put a hand over her mouth and an arm around her neck and started squeezing.

Instinctively she started to struggle and call out for help.

I whispered in her ear, “I mean you no harm, but if you struggle, or yell out, it could turn out very bad for you.”

We had been taught how to subdue people without killing them, but that always didn’t go to plan.  There was that instinct to fight back in everyone, and it was sometimes hard not to apply excessive pressure which could, depending on the severity of resistance, see the target asphyxiated, or end up with a broken neck.

She was still struggling, which mean I had to exert more force.

“Stop fighting me or you will harm yourself,” I said, this time in a more forceful whisper.

It had an immediate effect, but I don’t think it was her obedience that caused it.  I gently lowered her to the floor and felt for a pulse.  Unconscious, not dead.  I sighed in relief.  I took a good long look at her so that I would remember what she looked like.  At some point, I was going to have to talk to her.

Then footsteps outside the door.  What else could go wrong?

Then knocking on the door.  Short and sharp.  Followed by, “Jan, are you in there?”

Fred, whoever he was.  What did he want?”

Another knock on the door, this time more urgent.  Damn.  O’Connell’s flat was like a busy store.

I looked around for an escape now there would be no going out the front door.  Not unless I had to disable another person, and assuming if he was the building super, he would not be a small man, so it would take a greater, and noisier, effort to subdue him.

A fire escape, all buildings usually had one down the side of the building, in case of fire.  I went over and checked the windows and found it.  The window needed a little force to open it, but the sound of a key in the door motivated me.

Out the window, close the window again, I made it down the stairs far enough that when I looked up, no one was following me.

That was close.  Too close.

 

© Charles Heath 2019

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