Daily Distraction: DARK FIBER – a serial thriller, episode 2
Posted on June 22, 2014
Matt followed her nod with his gaze, to the man who trudged his way through the shoppers. Every now and again he looked up and when he did Matt caught a glance of his eyes. The cold shiver turned into an electrical surge that opened his throat and windpipe. As if he looked in a mirror before he’d put on the gray lenses. He stepped back into a shop’s portico, but pushed Victoria towards the man. “Do your magic,” he said softly. “Make it happen.”
Victoria stopped the man. She put her hand on his arm with a possessiveness that made him stop. She asked him for the way to the Anne Frank House. For a moment it looked as if the man wanted to ignore her, move on, but after a short hesitation in which his eyes flit nervously right and left, he answered her. In English. In flawless American English with a hint of Mid-West mixed in with a very, very distant Dutch twist. Victoria kept firing questions at the man, giving Matt ample opportunity to study him. He was so close that he could almost touch him. Not that he wanted to. The man reeked of old sweat and unwashed clothes, of thin beer. His hair was greasy and unkempt. But the right color. A grubby white Tee stretched around the onset of a potbelly, even though he couldn’t be older than twenty five. Matt’s age. Homeless? Matt cast a glance at the worn backpack that dangled from the man’s shoulder. That would be even easier. Nobody would miss a homeless man.
“Thank you.” Victoria gave the man her widest smile. She tucked a strand of black wig hair behind her ear. The man returned her smile with the mechanical one of a waiter hunting for a tip. Then he nodded and pushed on through the crowd.
Matt stepped out of the portico and stared at the man’s back.
Victoria seized his arm. Her blood-red nails dug into his skin, cut through the layer of dried sweat. “That’s him,” she whispered, her voice low and urgent. “We’ve got him. We so got him.”
Matt shook her hand off. “Maybe,” he muttered under his breath. He silenced her with an impatient wave of his hand. The man moved away slowly. Ten feet. Fifteen feet. Heads popped up in between them, bobbed by. Other heads appeared, moved in and out of sight. When he could spot nothing more than the man’s bed hair, Matt started moving.
The man plodded his way through the narrow street. He crossed the bridge over the canal. Which one? Matt pictured a map: Dam Square and the canals around it in a half circle: Singel, Herengracht, Keizersgracht and this was the last one, Prinsengracht. The man took a left turn, crossed the street diagonally and disappeared into a bar. ‘De Eland’ said the white lettering on the window. Not a homeless guy. A homeless would buy his beers in a cheap supermarket.