Was it just another surveillance job - Episode 17 - 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 the revised episode 17...

Why didn’t it surprise me that Nobbin was playing all ends against the middle if that was the expression?  What really bothered was that he wasn’t prepared to tell me the truth or trust me to help find the missing information.  But he had known I might become interested and do some investigating of my own.
Perhaps Nobbin feared Severin might track me down, as he had, and if I had found the USB, run the list of losing it to his foe.
Nor was it a surprise that someone else, namely Severin, was after the information, and he would have access to everything Nobbin did, and he was equally disadvantaged.  It was either Severin or one of his agents, that was caught in O’Connell’s flat and found ‘Josephine’ there.
I didn’t believe her name was Josephine, or that she lived in the flat next door.  And I didn’t think Severin had found anything going by the way the flat had been turned over, and the fact it looked like no one had lived there.
Having now dealt with both men, I was still on the fence about who was on the right side and who was on the wrong side, or whether they were both of questionable character.  What made it difficult to understand was how Severin could run an operation inside the organisation.  Surely someone knew about it, or from a high level, sanctioned it?
Knowing I would not be interrupted this time, I went back up to the third floor, and into O’Connell’s flat, a simple job since the front door was still unlocked.  The girl had assumed it was no value to them which told me she had already searched the place before being attacked.
Just in case anyone was likely to return, or there was another party interested in O’Connell, I locked the door from the inside.  At least no one had yet crashed through the door, smashing the lock and timber.
I stood in the middle of the main room, and did a slow 360-degree turn, looking at everything intently.  The thing with searches like this, it was more likely the object of any search was hidden in plain sight.  The usual places, such as the freezer, sections of fridges, stashed in bottles or packets in the pantry, under beds, inside mattresses, pillows, or under blankets, or with a form of glue on the inside of televisions or computers would prove fruitless.
We were taught to hide things such as USB sticks where they would be least expected to be found, such as a toy on a keyring, tossed in a bowl of pens, pins, clips, or other small insignificant items that all looked uninteresting.
My first thought was in the pocket of a coat in the closet, but all his clothes were strewn over the floor in the bedroom showing signs of being turned out.  Perhaps the searcher or searchers had thought like me.
There was no keyring in the kitchen or the bedroom, no was there any sort of stand inside the door, a place to put mail, and other items such as keys.  If there were any, they would have been on him when Severin had him killed.  I had not found, not felt, any in his pockets, not unusual for an agent in the field.  If you were captured or killed, you wanted nothing on you that could identify you or what you were doing.
Next I thought, a hidden compartment.  I was not going to predict he had a safe in the flat, but just in case, I did search thoroughly where one might be located.  The cheap watercolour on the wall hid nothing but some discoloured wallpaper.
I checked all the skirting boards, and inside walls of the robes, but there was nothing.  I also checked the robes thoroughly for false backs, or sides, or compartments hidden in the roof.  The floor was made from wood, so I checked to see if there were any loose boards, but in the end, considered that was a ruse used only in the movies and on television.
An hour later, I was no wiser as to where it could be, if at all, in the flat, but, looking around, it was certainly now a little more organised because in checking everything in case the previous searchers had missed anything, I’d put everything neatly in stacks.
And, no, there was nothing under the bed.  The previous searchers had thought of that too.
But, in one corner of the main room, there was a desk that had been completely turned out, papers were strewn everywhere.  There had been a computer, now missing, because there was a cable running from the printer, and a power cable in the wall, both running into thin air.
The papers yielded nothing of interest, other than he was researching a holiday to Russia and Poland. 
For two.
A break.  There was a significant other.  I made a more serious search of the papers that I’d gathered up off the floor and found a shred of a quickly torn up piece of paper, of which only this piece remained.  A name:  Jan, scribbled on it, with half another word ‘ord’.
Did this Jan also live in this block?  Did she work at the same place?  There were a hundred variations of that theme, but it was a start.  He might have trusted the USB to her safekeeping without telling her what it was, and it was possible she didn’t know he was dead.
I’d noticed that O’Connell’s death had been reported as a John Doe on the wrong end of an alleged mugging, the small dismissive paragraph on page seven reported the body was missing when police went to investigate a pool of blood in an alley, along with several other crimes of which police were seeking further information.  That alley hadn’t any CCTV cameras, so Severin knew he could easily shoot O’Connell without anyone knowing it was him.
There was nothing else of interest in the documents, other than the holiday, if it was a holiday, was to be in a month’s time.
My work was done.  I had a lead.  It was time to leave.
Except for one small problem.  Someone was knocking on the door.

© Charles Heath 2019


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