To start at the beginning go here.
I managed to catch a tram before it began to rain again, hopping off long before I got to the casino. None of the trams went directly from the poorer quarters into the heart of the old city. A chain of tram stations formed a periphérique between the outer banlieue and the luxurious homes, tourist hotels and Promenade of the central city, with its orange roofs and port filled with yachts baking in the sun. Whether you hopped onto another tram or went on foot, it gave the gendarmerie, standing around in body armor and rifles, black as old knights, plenty of time to look over the crowd, trying to pick out the next thief or friend of Tariq’s. I had learned that even my light skin didn’t keep me from scrutiny, the eyes behind masks boring into me as I walked by. I didn’t make eye contact and moved on.
I had been thinking about how long Mitnick’s boys might have been watching me and if they might have seen Atwell pick me up. I decided if they had, the Beard wouldn’t have wanted to talk to me, so I didn’t want to be as clumsy or obvious as Atwell if I could help it.
Walking from the tram station I took a relaxed, circuitous route, sticking to the pedestrian streets as I meandered to the southeast, heading back towards the harbor and promenade that cradled the casino. The bustle of early season tourists made it easier to spot anyone who might have been a tail, most folks moving in solid, direct lines, going from A to B. Instead I took a quick turn here and another there ending up at the cathedral.
A massive Byzantine structure that sat on a Greek Cross plan, the basilica had all the spikes and arches that someone a long time ago had associated with God. I always thought is was some kind of joke to Atwell having the dead drop there. The stone structure didn’t bring up any memories of the catechistic education of my youth, though. Instead its stone towers and onion domes always reminding me of minarets, half evoking the long, lonely call of the muezzin whenever I came into sight of the church.
Whatever the church reminded people of, it drew their attention, so across the street and just around the corner was the perfect place for the dead drop. An old telephone booth stood on the corner, a glass box that looked like something Superman would have changed in, but cracked and stenciled with graffiti, browned like a smoker’s teeth. I took a few moments to chew a piece of gum and dial a fake number, using a dry erase marker to write out the note, simply stating, “Made contact.” Waiting for the husky, automated voice of the phone sex line to pick up and ask for a credit card I doodled on the phone booth’s glass, leaving a tally mark to signal that there was something for pick up. Sticking the gum to the note I slapped it underneath the phone and got out, briskly walking away as a man who’s concluded his business.
I spiraled away from the cathedral, circling back to make sure I was still clean from a tail, then hopped on another tram to the casino. It had begun to rain again before I stepped off, reminding me of the umbrella and to be grateful for it. Relatively dry by the time I got inside, I put on my blazer and headed deeper into the casino’s gray interior, over to the security office. I pretended to read over the log for any alerts until I caught Jasper passing by with a casual, “Hey.”