OUTRAGE (Chapter 1)
He dressed himself in black jeans, a white shirt and a comfortable jacket, put on a pair of smart shoes he had had for three years, and considered the venues in the city centre that one of the women had mentioned.
He mixed himself two stiff drinks, which he drank as he watched TV and waited until it was time to go into town. He didn't want to set off too early - someone might notice him hanging around in a half-empty bar and he wanted to avoid that. The most import ant thing was to melt into the crowd, to go unnoticed, to be like everyone else. He mustn't be memorable in any way, must not stand out. In the unlikely event that anyone asked him about his movements that evening, he would say he had been at home all night, watching TV. If everything went according to plan, no one, anywhere, would remember his presence.
When the time was right he drained his glass and left. He was slightly tipsy. He walked from his home near the city centre through the autumn darkness towards the bar. The town was already buzzing with weekend revellers. Queues were forming at the most popular venues, bouncers were flexing their muscles and people were wheedling for admission. Music could be heard in the street, and food smells from restaurants mingled with the alcoholic fumes seeping from the bars. Some people were drunker than others. He despised them.
He had only a short wait before he made it inside. It wasn't one of the most fashionable places, but it was crammed all the same. That was fine. He had already been on the lookout for girls or young women on his way through town: preferably not much over thirty, preferably not stone-cold sober. It was all right if they'd had a bit to drink but he didn't want them too drunk.
He kept a low profile. He patted his jacket pocket once more, to be sure he had it. He had touched the pocket lightly several times on the way, knowing that he must be one of those neurotic types who were forever checking whether they'd locked the door, forgotten their keys, whether the coffee maker was definitely switched off or a hotplate had been left on. He was obsessive like that - he recalled reading about it in some magazine. Another article had been about a different compulsion of his: washing his hands twenty times a day.
Most people were drinking half-litres of beer, so he ordered the same. The bartender hardly glanced at him, and he took care to pay cash. He found it easy to blend in. Most of the customers were about his age, out with friends or colleagues. The drinkers raised their voices to be heard over the heavy rap beat of the music and the din was deafening. He took a leisurely look around, observing groups of women sitting and standing together. Other women were with boyfriends or husbands, but there was no one who appeared to be alone. He left without finishing his drink.
At the third place he spotted a woman he recognised - he thought she was probably about thirty and she seemed to be on her own. She sat at a table in the smoking area, surrounded by other smokers, but she was clearly not with them. He observed her from a distance as s
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