She finished her coffee and looked across the quay. The water of the bay was calm, the sound of small waves lapping gently on the embankment washed over her ears. The cafe table was in the perfect position, or so she guessed. She looked down at the telephoto lens and top of the line camera sitting in a bag at her feet. Now all she had to do was wait.
The task was the same and it was never a surprise. Even the waiters at the cafe were in on it, she tipped them well. Once a week a navy ship passed through the bay on its way out to sea, she needed to get as many pictures as possible every time. Sometimes it was something small, a destroyer or something like that. Once it was an aircraft carrier that the navy wasn’t even supposed to have completed yet. Another time it was a submarine, black and sleak in the water. Usually, though, it was what her identification guide called a guided missile cruiser.
The waiter brought her another coffee and she checked her watch. Late. Strange. These sailors were usually the punctual type. She guessed it was something to do with tides or spy satellites flying over. Maybe it was just a crew rotation or the skipper liked to sail after breakfast. Who knows, hell who cares. She liked the idle speculation, though, it passed the time and added an interesting dimension to what was, all things considered, an exceptionally boring job.
Sit at a cafe until a ship shows up, take as many pictures as possible as it sails past. Develop the film and try to identify the ship, though if she couldn’t that was cool too, then give it to her contact.
Contact. She snorted at the thought. She was just a photographer from up the street. A local, a third party national as the customer had said. Not from the same country as the navy ship, nor of whoever the guy was. He’d shown up one day and asked her to do it. He offered more than double what she usually made in a month- just for one morning a week. She’d been nervous, she even went to the local police box and asked the officer on duty if it was illegal. He was helpful if not all that interested. He dutifully called his superiors who said it was absolutely legal to photograph any ship in the bay at any time- if a foreign navy didn’t like it they could sail elsewhere.
It seemed like a slam dunk, she smiled. The ship appeared as if summoned by her felicity. It was sleek and gun metal grey. A large white ‘65’ was painted on the side. She grabbed her camera and began to snap it. She started at the bow, holding down the button to capture every inch of the ship as it passed the spot.
She was busy getting as many shots as she could when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She ignored it, engrossed in her work, until she felt something cold and metal press up against her head. She jumped, startled, turning her head to look straight down the barrel of a menacing looking handgun. She looked up to see a man who looked like he meant business. She looked over and saw they’d grabbed the waiter too, he squirmed with a gun to his head.
Hand over the camera and hands up. The man said in a strong foreign accent. She complied and the man grabbed the camera. His associate let the waiter go and took the camera. The man looked deep into her eyes.
You need to come with us, he said, we have some questions.