by Neal James
It had been over five months since the police had found the body in Leicester, and the trail seemed to have run cold. He had kept up to date with all of the newspaper and other reports surrounding the killing, but with the passage of time they were drying up. It had been a topic of conversation down at the pub and at work, but he had taken extreme care to avoid becoming involved in any discussions on the subject, and when pressed had always made some non-committal remark on the topic of policing.
He was, however, becoming agitated and anxious for the next step in his ‘campaign’. It certainly seemed that the time was right for another expedition, but on this occasion he would need to be more careful after a near miss with witnesses in the East Midlands. There was an opportunity coming up in Birmingham next week, and it would be a shame to miss out now that all the signs were set fair. Perhaps a trip up there to reconnoitre the area would be a good idea, and looking at his shift rota he wasn’t due on again at the weekend for another month.
He dressed, had breakfast and made his way to the station. The first train from Marylebone would be leaving for Birmingham at around ten. He checked his wallet – plenty of cash. Never use anything else for the ticket, and make sure that notes are all small denomination – mix some change in for good measure. Blend in, become invisible, buy a paper and don’t look at anyone on the journey – people remember faces that look at them, and that was something he could do without.
The train left right on time, and he made sure that no-one was about to sit next to him – what else were bags for? Birmingham was about an hour up the line and he needed that time to focus on the task before him. Familiarisation with the area, location of quiet spots, tracking the movements of any likely targets, and watching out for police patrols – a lot to do in five or six hours, but if he kept his wits about him there wouldn’t be much of a problem. He spread himself out across the seat as the train pulled in at the next station. The last thing that he wanted was a distraction, but fate was against him and the young woman who sat down opposite smiled as she wished him ‘Good Morning’.
Unsettling, that’s what it was, and she was pretty too. He had to answer; anything else might draw attention to him. He returned the smile and nodded his head in acknowledgement. She took this as a sign to start up a conversation, a conversation which he would rather have avoided. He didn’t want people knowing about him, asking questions; what was it that one of his mates had once said? ‘I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you’. Now there would be an idea, watch where she got off and follow on behind, wait for the right time and place, and then wham! Gotcha. No, stick to the plan, don’t get diverted, that would be the way to disaster. Head down into the newspaper and hope she took the hint...