Gonzo had been tailing the woman all morning.
Discrete, undetected, a shadow, He hadn’t seen her make the drop. Not yet. Her tradecraft was good, but not as good as his. When she turned into the shop at number 74 he knew there would be a wait. There’s always a wait when a woman goes into a shoe store.
He took a table in the window at a small bistro across the avenue and ordered coffee from the slovenly waiter, an old man wearing a stained apron, “Un café s’il vous plaît.”
“Tout d’ suite, monsieur.” The old waiter muttered through his mustache as he wandered back to the bar.
Gonzo turned his attention back to the woman, back to the shoe store at number 74. He could see her through the window as she prowled the displays and chatted with the smiling young shop assistant. He watched as she picked up and admired a pair of suede ankle boots. She said something to the clerk who nodded and disappeared into the back just as the waiter set Gonzo’s coffee on the table. He said something but Gonzo paid him no attention, merely waved him away.
He watched the woman reach deep into her bag and pull out something small. He watched her drop it into the toe of the boot she held. He watched her set the boot back down and scurry from the shop, down the street in the direction from which she had come.
This was it. It had all come down to this moment.
Speaking into his transmitter he told Claude it was on. “Pick up the woman.” He said. He scattered a handful of coins and bills on the table, next to his untouched coffee. Leaving the bistro he crossed the avenue to number 74 and pushed through the door just as the shop girl came back to the front, still smiling and carrying a red coloured shoe box.
“How much for these?” he asked the girl in English indicating the boots that the woman had handled.
“Two hundred Euros, plus VAT” she replied.
“I’ll take them,” he crumpled €250 into her hand and scooped up the footwear.
No one heard the shot. Only Gonzo and the shop girl heard the window crack when the bullet pierced through. Gonzo had no time to react. The girl, however, screamed when he collapsed to the floor with a small hole in his forehead and a larger hole at the base of his neck. She was still screaming and crying when the gendarme arrived.