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Jake Simons


Uzi – that was his name now, Uzi – had been living quietly in London for three months. He had no strong feelings about it. It was just a place. As grimy, as vicious, as glittering as any other city. The main thing was, it wasn’t Israel. It wasn’t home. That was why he came. His old self – the man who was part of a band of brothers – had become nothing but a distant memory. And he could barely even remember the man who had once had a wife, a child. Now he was alone, renting a dive in a poor part of North London. An ugly flat – he felt he deserved ugliness. And it was a good place for business.

It was Saturday night, and he needed to forget everything. The voice in his head, for once, didn’t complain. He got on a bus, and as it fumed through the traffic, the sun began to die. The evening was humid, gripping the passengers with suffocating fingers. He didn’t get a seat, didn’t want one. Automatically he became invisible, became alert, turning his back to the staircase, watching the other passengers. There: three teenagers, stoned, on the back seat. A man standing three paces away, carrying a backpack, with callouses on the knuckles of his right hand – a fighter. Behind him a pair of pickpockets, though tonight they weren’t on the job. All these things he saw, he couldn’t ignore them. And there was more. He could tell you the make and model of the mobile devices that everyone on the bus was carrying. He could tell you which passengers were suffering from ill health, and what their complaints might be. He could tell you their nationalities, their temperaments, their heights and weights; he could tell you which ones had noticed him. He could tell you which of these people, under pressure, would buckle, and who would hold out till the end. None of this was psychic. It was his training.

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