Suspense – a writing exercise


I don’t know what the hell the shop at my back sold, but its windows’ steel shutters were cold to lean against, and the concrete sill dug deep into my butt. I’d be numb if I had to stay there much longer. But if I as much as twitched, the sensor above and to the left of me would light up the whole shop front like stage lights.

It was a hell of a night to be stuck like a statue. Chilly—probably a frost coming in. Wet—a slight sprinkle with heavier rain a definite probability. Clothing—absolutely useless for the job.

From my damp and cold position I could see both of them—she, leaning against a lamp post three metres along from the restaurant door over the road; and he, hidden in the dark, half sitting on the window sill of the fashion boutique diagonally across the intersection from me.

I knew he couldn’t see me. A large planter was butted against the shop wall beside the window, its tall, full shrubbery hiding me from his view. There were just enough gaps that I, right there beside it, could see his position. Every so often a pin-point of red, glowing at the end of his cigarette, assured me he was still there, after seventy-two minutes.

She knew where each of us was. She was counting on me, and dreading any move he made. Her job was to wait until the Brit left the restaurant and approach him before my marked man intervened.

I knew she was armed. Her silly little hand gun would be tucked in her left knee-high fashionable boot. Being ambidextrous, but mostly using her right hand for everything except fighting, gave her a fractional moment’s advantage should she need it—which she often did. God knows where she kept her stiletto.

My peripheral vision caught flickering sparks from his fag butt as he tossed it down. He moved away from the wall, by about a half-step.

With a sudden rush of chatter and clatter, the restaurant doors swung out into the entry. The doorman stepped out and latched them open as the inner door glided closed, shutting off the brief sound of diners having a good time. That was appropriate—no one in my sight was going to have a good time for much longer.

The doorman stood with a shoulder tucked behind the edge of one door, his back to the man who had silently moved further to stand in the far gutter. The Brit and his minders came from the lobby and stood waiting for their ride. One minder at each shoulder, they ignored the doorman, who knew better than to look at them.

She had already straightened up and stood away from her lamp-post. She grabbed her shoulder tote and slung it on her right as she moved towards them, a gentle sway of her hips suggesting a less than honourable job.

One minder spotted her. He moved from behind the Brit and around to stand in front of him, already on his toes, his knees relaxed, and shoulders balanced ready to go. His shoulders’ tension was an easy tell. This one meant business.

She raised her hand—just a simple flex of her wrist. He relaxed back onto his heels and eased his shoulders.

She continued towards them, the strap of her shoulder tote now wrapped firmly in her right wrist. As she reached a point where the minder’s bulk blocked our man’s vision—he was now halfway across the three-lane road—she raised one finger from the strap.

The minder moved only an eyebrow—up, down—acknowledging her warning.