It all started in Venice – Episode

Watching the watchers

My day’s entertainment was spotting the surveillance and then watching the surveillance.  It was an aspect of my job that was really strange, but it was important to keep an eye on your enemies, if only to be ready for the unexpected.

I didn’t expect anything to happen, for the time being, taking Larry at his word that, for some reason, he needed Juliet to win my trust before he made an approach.

And yet there was always an air of unpredictability in these matters, so I decided that if the opportunity arose, I’d surprise him.  In any case, I had a feeling Larry might get impatient and arrive with a small army before too long.

The librarian, to all those who didn’t know who she was, was the quintessential librarian on holiday.  She was very much a loner, who was quite capable of appearing like a lost schoolgirl on one hand, and someone very much at home, and at ease, in her environment.

She also had an air of danger about her, so she would be when push came to shove, a formidable opponent.

I couldn’t say the same for the Frenchman because there were times, I didn’t quite believe he was anything other than an abrasive Frenchman.  The only thing that kept me interested was the fact I couldn’t shake him.

I’d managed to lose the librarian several times, long enough to observe her, before I let her find me again.  Until the last time when she lost me, I came up behind her.

I’m not sure what I was thinking, but surprise often brought out a person’s true character.

When she turned around, his sixth sense finally kicking in, she jumped

“We have to stop meeting like this,” I said.

“We haven’t met before.”

“You were at the hotel this morning, and I got an icy look from you just before you left.  From them 9n, every time I turn around, there you are.”

“Coincidence, I assure you.”

“I hope so, because I cannot for the life of me wonder what your interest could be in me.”

“None.”

“Are you staying at the hotel?”

There had to be a point where. If she was a normal person, she would find this encounter creepy, and begin to think I was a stalker.  Not so far, which meant that she hadn’t time to formulate the proper response to our first meeting, outrage. Or at least genuine fear.

She had fallen back on training, training that I was familiar with.  The question then was, she might not be working for Larry, but Rodby.

“I can’t see that it’s any of your business.”

“Well or might be.  If you are a tourist, I live here, and know the city well, and could be at the very least an English-speaking guide.”

“I’m not in need of a guide.  I’m only here a few days and talking to you is wasting time.  If you’re following me, don’t.”

A last look up and down, definitely checking out what sort of threat I was, she then wandered off, cool and calm demeanor reacquired.

And, I thought, cover blown.  One down and one to go.

It might have been disconcerting to fund the Frenchman and Juliet having coffee at a small Cafe opposite a church on one of the wider streets in Venice.

After running into the librarian in St Mark’s square, I decided to walk a large circuitous route to Rio Terra Foscarini, at the end of which was a church and a Vaporetto terminal.

I was at the top of Campo Morosini, and saw them before they saw me, which left me with two options.  Crash the party, or leave them alone.  The latter seemed the best idea, and I doubled back and decided to check out the film festival events for the days.

Something else, which might be a worry, I had noticed the Frenchman had stopped following me.  At least now I knew who she was working for.

Changing my mind again, I decided to go home and contemplate my next meeting with Juliet.

Waiting, not far from the doorstep, was Alfie.

“Knew you’d get around to coming home sometime today.  How are you?”

“Confused.”

“Well, that’s not a good state to be in.”

I opened the door and let him pass in front of me.  A quick look to see if anyone was watching, there was no one that I could see, then closed the door.

If only that could shut out all the problems.

“Why are you confused?”

“Has Rodby put another dog on my tail?”

“You mean that woman you accosted in the souvenir shop?  Not aware of one, but you know Rodby, trusts no one and tells you only what he thinks you want to hear.”

So Alfie was not above telling me lies.  Or maybe he didn’t know, but I found that hard to believe.  And it was disconcerting to learn he knew of my every movement.  Was her surveilling me too, or just tracking me.  And how did he know about the librarian?

“She’s just one of two keeping an eye on me.  The other is a Frenchman, and I just saw him and Juliet having coffee.”

“Details.  What’s your plan for tonight?  You should be taking Cecilia.”

“She’s busy.”

“Not that busy that our affairs cone first.”

“It’s not that important.  I’m sure when she’s finished, she’ll be crashing the party.  But, in any case, there is no plan.  I’m not sure whether I want to interrogate her, or just play along.  Where’s Larry?”

“Still in Sorrento.”

“You will tell me the moment he leaves?”

“Of course.  If you want me to take care of the woman and the Frenchman, let me know.”

“Won’t that alert Larry that we’re on to him?”

“Possibly, but people disappear here all the time.”

“I don’t think we need to be that drastic.  Yes.  Let’s see what happens tonight.”

“Have fun then “

I was not sure who I had to worry about the most.  Rodby or Larry.  They both seemed overly obsessive.

© Charles Heath 2022

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