This is the second post in my new project The Opening Sentence — read all about it here and share any thoughts/brickbats below.
The voice boomed across Platform 3. “Would London Transport Police please come to the Piccadilly Line platforms to remove a beggar?”
I knew that was the opportunity I needed. The station was already crowded with commuters on their weary way home, but everyone stepped away from where the resting figure, huddled in a blanket, was cursing huskily under his breath, a handwritten cardboard sign in front of him. He wouldn’t move until the police arrived, and that would take a few moments, even if they used the staff exits and avoided some of the corridors teeming with passengers.
I was standing directly behind Rebecca Blake. I was sure she hadn’t seen me. Even if she noticed me in passing, the scarf around my neck and the beanie on my head made my features hard to discern .And she had only met me briefly that one time, when I guided her into Leonard Johnson’s office. Numbers were her passion; it seemed unlikely she would have much of a memory for faces.
Even so, I waited on the platform until the police finally arrived to remove the beggar. The crowd was forced even closer together as the three coppers (two male, one female) leaned in and reminded the poor wretch that he had to leave. This was my chance. As everyone squeezed in tighter, I slipped the device into Rebecca Blake’s handbag.
She didn’t notice. She might not have realised even without the distraction, but I couldn’t see the point in taking the risk. By now the beggar had reluctantly agreed to move on, and a train was pulling in, bound for Heathrow. Rebecca Blake boarded, along with most of the crowd. I hung back. Let everyone think I was waiting for a service to Uxbridge. I loitered for a few seconds, then headed for the escalators.
Bruce met me in a pub a block away from the station. Our guess had been correct; once the police had escorted him out of the Tube station, they weren’t interested in taking matters further. The distraction had worked. But we’d have to wait three days to find out if the rest of the plan was as successful. If everything worked, Rebecca Blake would be dead.