He arrived at the meeting place exactly five minutes early, as usual. Silence fell over the shadowy backstreet after he had turned off the engine, as if downtown with its traffic noise and flashing neon lights wasn’t only a few kilometers away. He glanced at his watch, lit a cigarette and watched how a cloud of smoke he blew out of the car window kept floating over the rain soaked pavement, until a randomly passing gentle breeze carried it away. The stranger leaned back on the driver’s seat, closed his eyes and thought about his doctor’s advice to give up cigarettes immediately and eat some vegetables every time he craved nicotine. The mere thought of a bunch of carrots instead of cigarettes and a lighter in his jacket pocket filled him with horror. So you storm out of a meeting because you’ve had enough of those incompetent fools and rush outside to suck on a turnip to calm down? You could just as well join a traveling circus.
Exactly on the hour, a familiar figure in a raincoat appeared from the darkness, sat down in the passenger seat and placed his briefcase carefully on his knees.