A week before the Bistro murder, Tony did not go straight to his office. He had an important meeting in Alfie’s Cafe in Chelsea. Alfie’s was directly across the street from Bartelli's Bistro, but it was at the opposite end of the class scale from the Bistro. You could only order two kinds of coffee at Alfie’s — black or white, but tea was the most popular beverage. Alfie, if there was an Alfie, must have grown up in the ’80s as disco music was always playing the background — not loudly, as it should have been, but very softly, which made it very annoying. Tony arrived twenty minutes before the appointed time and sat at a table for two near the window which looked out onto the street. 

 The hit-man was used to receiving his instructions in different ways. He, and the people who contracted him, were always very careful. His last couple of jobs were delivered by an Italian-looking man, a few years younger than himself, whom he knew only as “The Accountant.” 

He didn’t know if he was really an accountant, but he did know that he didn’t trust him. 

The Accountant contacted him via cryptic emails. When they met, The Accountant gave him two Yahoo email addresses. One in which he would receive the next contact information and the other to reply, but only if he could not make the rendezvous. These email addresses were to be used once and then discarded.

He and The Accountant always met face-to-face, although the hit-man was always disguised. Today, he had a wig, false beard and dark glasses. He also wore an orthopaedic boot on his left foot which gave him an obvious limp. The Accountant always gave very detailed information about the victim, but he never made notes of the information. 

If anyone overheard the conversation, they’d think the men were discussing a candidate for a job. They’d assume they were head-hunters, and in a way, they were. 

The Accountant always went over the information three times, and then asked if he needed to repeat anything. He never had to, the hit-man had an extremely good memory.

The hit-man limped into Alfie’s Cafe. Tony, The Accountant, was already sitting at a small table, waiting. He stood in the doorway and surveyed the scene. In less than a minute he had stored a picture in his mind of every person in the cafe, where they were sitting and what they were doing. He would be able to recall this picture in great detail if needed later. He didn’t know if this was a God-given gift, or whether he had developed it over the years, but this unique talent had proved very useful.

He saw Tony sitting near the window at the table for two. He looked quite elegant in a dark blue blazer and a black polo neck sweater. 

He sat down opposite Tony and took a quick look around to see if anyone was taking any interest in them — they weren’t. 

Tony pushed a cup of coffee towards him and said “I got you one in. They only have ordinary coffee, not like the fancy place over the road.”

”Thanks,” said the hit-man. He was a man of few words. 

Tony proceeded to go into details about the “top candidate for the job.” Name, address, age, employment, marital status, etc. 

He slid a manilla folder to the hit-man’s side of the table. It contained a job application form filled in supposedly by Nicholas Styles. A photo of the unfortunate Mr. Styles was paper clipped to it. At the bottom of the “application,” in the box for “expected salary” £100,000 was written in blue ink. This confirmed the amount that he would get paid for the hit. In fact, this job application form was his contract.

After Tony had finished all he had to say, he drained the last dregs of coffee and asked him if he had any questions. 

“Only one,” he said, pointing out of the window, “What am I going to do about that?” 

Tony looked out of the window to see what he had pointed at.

”What are you talking about?” asked Tony, still looking outside.

”Those bloody CCTV cameras. They’re pointed straight at the Bistro.”

Tony looked back at him. “You’re the professional, that’s your problem. But it’s essential that the ‘interview’ takes place at the Bistro.

”Okay, everything’s good,” said the hit-man.

Tony felt very pleased with himself. There was a second “job application” form in his briefcase, in the name of Sir Geoffrey Fender, but he did not pass on this one, he decided to keep it for himself. Little did he know that the assassin had already been told that there would be two jobs. 

As Tony got up to leave, he said, “The email addresses are on the job application. Let me know when you have completed the interview.”

“It that all?” 

“Yes, that’s it,” says Tony

“Are you sure there’s nothing else?” 

“You have everything you need. We’ll be in touch. I’m out of here!”

”Right,” said the hit-man as he watched Tony walk out of the door without looking back.

He pulled a plastic bag from his backpack. He looked around, nobody was watching him, anyway he was facing the window, nobody could see what he was doing. He used a handkerchief to pick up Tony’s spoon. He gently placed it in the plastic bag and then safely into his backpack.

The hit-man watched The Accountant leave the cafe. He saw him blow his nose into a tissue and toss it into the gutter. 

When the Accountant had disappeared around a corner, he left the cafe and ran towards the discarded tissue. A woman expressed her disgust as he picked up the used tissue in his gloved hand and stuffed it into his backpack.

“Keep Britain tidy,” he said to the woman. He smiled and hobbled away.

No thoughts on “Chapter 14”