The man walks down the road, his feet hitting the pavement. Thump. Thump. Every now and again he stops, pulls a pocket watch from his jacket, and looks at it, before returning the watch to the same pocket and continuing to walk briskly. His eccentric clothes would make him stand out if it weren’t for the fact that this is an eccentric street—he fits in perfectly. Which was, of course, the plan, and he is glad that they thought things through before they sent him on this wild goose chase.
He reaches are bright red post box and stops, peering intently into the gaping mouth. There is nothing inside that is visible, save for a small stack of letters and a few spiders which hurriedly scuttle out of sight as his torch shines on their scuttling bodies. With a small smile and a nod, he turns and walks away, stopping half a mile or so later at another post box. This one has been abandoned, its slot boarded up and the paint allowed to fade and flake until it was just brown dust. Now he has arrived.
“Early,” he says, looking at the pocket watch. The hands read three o’clock, but the others are not due until half past. They will be punctual, if not early, but it will still be quite a wait. Still, that is what this man is used to, and he sits down on a little wall in order to save his legs. After all, he has been walking since the early hours of the morning to get here, since he lives a good twenty miles away but does not own a car.
“A car!” He snorts at the idea. What good would a car be? He cannot drive.
At precisely twenty past three, two men arrive. They are identically dressed in shin-length grey coats and black trousers. Although their shirts are hidden, the man knows that they are black too, worn open-necked with no tie: that is what these two men always wear, and they have never been known to change.
Acknowledging his presence with a slight nod, they sit a little way along the wall, not saying a word. The man feels shivers creep up his spine but ignores them, continuing to wait. At twenty-five past, a young woman joins them, her knee-length black dress making her seem slightly old fashioned and her plaits adding to the general image, although in fact she is highly up-to-date. They wait now for only one person, but it is not long before the car pulls up. Quietly, the three men and the woman get into the back of the limousine. It pulls away from the post box before any of the residents had even realised it was there, whisper quiet. The meeting was underway.