The hidden killer

The man entered the coffee shop, a wispy swirl of snow following in his wake. He stamped off the slush sticking to his black boots before moving from the welcome mat toward the counter.

He saw the young girl sitting at a window table with her mother out of the corner of his right eye but had no visible reaction, didn’t even turn his head. He always maintained rigid control of his emotions when there were too many eyes watching.

When there were only two eyes watching, two wide, terrified, innocent eyes… well, that was another matter altogether.

He returned the barista’s cheery greeting and ordered a mocha latte. He even laughed at her joke about the weather - not too loudly, not too quietly, but just right. She flushed with pleasure, gave him an extra shot of chocolate syrup and waved him on his way with a genuine, honest to goodness smile.

The man left the counter, making sure to turn to his right so that he could take a better look at the girl he had previously noticed. Long blonde hair peeked out of a red woollen cap; soft, pale skin; fragile little fingers grasped a steaming mug of hot chocolate; and then she was gone from his sight as he strolled toward the door.

Gone from his sight, but not from his thoughts.

He exited the shop without a backward glance, crossed the street and slipped into his faded brown station wagon. Moments later the engine roared to life and the heat was cranked to full. The man sipped gingerly at his drink, pulled a small camera from his jacket pocket and waited.

His eyes alternated between the bundled pedestrians on the sidewalk, the snow dusted cars driving down the partially cleared street, the map which lay open on the passenger seat and the window of the coffee shop. When the mother and her daughter stood up to leave, the man’s breathing increased slightly but he quickly forced it back to its normal rate.

As they emerged onto the sidewalk he raised his camera over the edge of the window and snapped two pictures in rapid succession, his head facing forward but his eyes locked on his target. He watched as they moved away, hand in hand, until they went left at the next intersection and disappeared from his view.

The man gently eased his car out of its parking spot, approached the intersection and turned right after only a moment’s hesitation.

Hiding in plain sight, he reflected without emotion, involved a lot of patience.

The End

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