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Assignment Pellestrina

Assignment Pellestrina

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Assignment Pellestrina

Lunghezza:
405 pagine
6 ore
Pubblicato:
Nov 14, 2014
ISBN:
9781496996206
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Dexter Grants career as a senior systems designer with a French IT company is over. Having sold his house in London and moved to Venice to embark on a new career, driven by his passion for art, he becomes entangled in a web of murder and intrigue.
Living in his spacious motor home on the Lido, he rents out his newly renovated apartment in Venice only to discover that a mysterious tenant embarks on a sequence of brutal killings.
Completely unaware of the political and criminal implications, Dexter is harassed by the Venetian Police in their attempt to investigate the unfolding mayhem of crime throughout both Venice and London.

It soon becomes clear that a powerful Cartel are involved, who have assigned a ruthless assassin to silence their enemies, the same killer then pursues Dexter in order to retrieve an item that was taken whilst the killer rented his apartment. Aided by friends, Dexter attempts to disentangle himself from the frightening sequence of events in Italy, which by now involve government agency officers, Interpol, and Scotland Yard.
Returning to London to stage an important restoration project in the hope of attracting wealthy backers, Dexter is pursued once again by the assassin during a further sequence of ruthless assignments.
This powerful story of intrigue and mystery commencing in Venice gains momentum on its passage through the archipelago of islands including Pellestrina, Burano, Lido, and St. Michelle. In London, the chase for the killer becomes intensive, calling upon the resources of both Scotland Yard and the Venetian Police in an attempt to avoid a serious international incident.
Pubblicato:
Nov 14, 2014
ISBN:
9781496996206
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

John Costella was born in London and is a third generation Italian. He studied art, history, and period architecture, which he now brings together in his literary works. His previous books have focused primarily on discovering historical journeys in and around both London and Venice, which have opened up previously dormant facts regarding both noted and indigenous residents of these two great cities. Drawing on his vast experience of the enchanting islands of Venice and also London, the author has now focused his attention in creating a mystery novel that tears into the heart of crime and violence today, amid the tranquility and solace of the past.

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Assignment Pellestrina - John Costella

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Chapter 1

In late May the sunrise on the Venetian Lagoon is generally spectacular, and this early morning vista is no exception for the few people who are walking the streets of Cannaregio, which have come alive to the tune of early summer. Cannaregio in the north of the island is one of six districts that form mainland Venice and, to the joy of many locals is often overlooked by the hordes of tourists who descend upon the Serenessima each year.

At first light the streets have a calm silence when heralding a new day in Cannaregio, a peacefulness remains unchanged, even the occasional movement of water craft loaded with deliveries cannot interrupt the tranquillity of each small canal which has been locked in time for centuries. Along the wide Fondamente Nove the busy vaporettos are coming to life, each vaporetto pontile (landing stage) becoming crowded with early morning passengers waiting patiently for their watercraft to arrive. Each awaiting passenger jockeying for position on the unstable floating platform, before making the final stampede to get on the water-craft immediately they are beckoned on board. This particular morning the Lagoon waters create a sparkle and crisp reflection around the pontile landing stage that awaits vaporetto numbered 5.2, this will soon change to a breaking wash once the vessel arrives.

As number 5.2 docks at the pontile a group of passengers quickly disembark and make their way in both directions along the fondamente, the last passenger to disembark seemingly in less of a hurry than the rest is carrying a large rucksack. Whilst holding a tourist map of the island in one hand the traveller slowly meandered along the path looking in every manner like one of the millions of tourists who visit Venice each year. The traveller was in his late thirties and had a dark complexion that complemented his rugged looks, all of which would suggest that he was a seasoned voyager. Wearing a branded range of casual clothing with a mixture of accessories he had all the hallmarks of having travelled some considerable distance and seemed intent on reaching his next destination in the shortest possible time.

After walking just a few hundred yards along Fondamente Nove still studying his map, his attention was drawn to a street sign marked Calle Gardeno and he immediately turned right into this fairly narrow thoroughfare. Encouraged by the fact that he had found the street he was looking for so easily, his attention focuses on finding his apartment, which according to instructions from the letting agent was accessed via a small courtyard. Fortuitously there were few courtyards in this street to select from, however house numbers are sometimes missing on addresses in Venice, the only guide is the district code number, which did cause some confusion for our weary traveller. Relieved at long last to find apartment number 1241 nestled inside a gated courtyard the traveller opened one of the many pockets on his coat and retrieved a key fob with two keys one of which opened the ornate Iron Gate. This crafted piece of ironwork protected a small courtyard area surrounded on three sides by well-maintained but weathered red brickwork and Istrian stone, all of which framed the ornate windows and the central door lobby. First impressions would suggest that this attractive oasis of calm provides a secure retreat from street pedestrians and offers an elegant point of entry to several apartments which are situated on the three floors of the building. The external features would indicate that the entire property had been sympathetically restored in recent years.

Before entering the courtyard our traveller took note of the names printed on each bell push then wearily ambled across the courtyard, then using the same key entered the communal front door. Once inside, the ground floor entrance opened up onto a typical elegant Venetian 17th century hallway, with a magnificent marble and iron staircase on one side that led to the two floors above. Realising that soon he will be able to remove his large rucksack and enjoy some modicum of comfort our traveller has an injection of vigour as he enthusiastically scaled the two flights of stairs before reaching apartment No. 6.

Feeling the efforts of the final part of his journey, he hurriedly places the second of the two keys in the door lock of No.6 and enters the apartment, immediately closing the door behind him before bundling himself along the spacious hallway corridor which led to a very attractive and well-appointed lounge. With a final burst of energy he removes the rucksack from his weary shoulders, also his green anorak which was worn over a smart jacket, closes the window blinds that overlook the courtyard and slumps to rest on a large comfortable armchair.

It had been a long trek to Venice for the traveller and the few minutes which he allowed himself to recover from the labouring journey were spent relaxing in the knowledge that the next phase of his assignment would hopefully be less exhausting. Momentarily he closed his eyes and recalled the past 14 hours which he spent travelling from Montpellier by road reliving each stage of the journey. The first leg was by rail to Antibes where he rented a small lock-up premises, which provided him with accommodation and garage space. Once there his first job was to check his garaged vehicle then collect some personal items such as false ID papers from his collection of passports and documents, together with several weapons that were essential for his profession. Then he undertook the gruelling drive to Piacenza before collecting the remainder of his luggage and setting off for the final leg to Isola del Tronchetto, where he had previously booked a parking space in the multi storage car park close to Venice’s Piazzale Roma bus terminal. From this point his journey became less exhausting, after parking his car and sorting out the items for his rucksack it was a simple vaporetto ride from Tronchetto to Fondamente Nove. A journey which to most would not seem unreasonable, but this particular traveller had more on his mind than the casual tourist, this traveller had brutally killed two people just 40 hours earlier! His completed assignment was executed in Paris where he casually walked up to two men sitting outside a café in the popular district of Saint-Honoré and fired a salvo of bullets into their heads before successfully escaping into the crowded streets. There had been no hint of remorse shown in his actions either before or after the crime was committed, a crime which was planned in infinite detail by this experienced and cold blooded killer. The contract killing had eliminated two witnesses to a major crime, both of whom had foolishly decided to blackmail a very wealthy construction mogul who had every means at his disposal to sanction such a heinous crime.

Gazing around the well-appointed lounge, the traveller was comforted by the fact that the letting agent’s description of the apartment met and even exceeded the advertised criteria and after a closer inspection of the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, each tastefully decorated in a retro-Venetian style, he began to unpack his large Sherpa styled rucksack. With the knowledge that he would only be using the apartment for a short stay, he unpacked his limited items of clothing, which included a pair of expensive shoes, one designer shirt and a pair of trousers together with an expensive bag for toiletries. Then he carefully lifted out a small laptop and expensive camera all of which were stored away in a tidy manner, finally he hauled out the main item of luggage which was enclosed in a separate container.

By now the time was around 7.30am and the light creeping through the gaps of each window-blind injected the warmth of the sun in the direction of the dining table, where he had positioned the container. Our traveller then reverently unclipped the two locking mechanisms and immediately revealed a collection of items that when assembled will transform into a high powered long range rifle, capable of killing a human target up to 1,300 metres away. Removing each section of the rifle, our traveller then carefully assembled each engineered component of the weapon which when built will weigh over 6kgs, and be 130cm in length. When fired its suppressor will render it almost silent and reduce the tell-tale flashing from each of the 8.5 calibre bullets delivered, making it virtually impossible to detect, a weapon designed and built exclusively for an assassin! Once fully assembled our assassin has one other task to perform before delivering his assignment and that is to calibrate the intricate telescopic day sight that will magnify its target leaving little chance for error by a trained gunman. This final act of preparation could only be executed at the target area, on the scheduled date and time, therefore satisfied that the rifle specification meets with his approval our assassin disassembles each part of the weapon with the same precision that was displayed on assembly. Once completed each part is carefully returned to the container with its 10 rounds of ammunition and concealed once again in the rucksack. Before sealing the rucksack one final check is made on the contents of the remaining storage pocket which contains one other weapon, a semi-automatic Glock 22 pistol which can discharge a round of seventeen 0.4 calibre bullets in rapid succession.

Satisfied that his early planning stages were coming together our assassin now carefully stores the rucksack in the bedroom wardrobe, which he locks and then removes the key before making himself a coffee using the provisions supplied and delivered by the letting agents.

Two weeks prior to his arrival in Venice our assassin had confirmed his reservation to rent apartment No.6 Calle Gardeno for a period of one week and had negotiated a prescribed list of requirements detailing his needs and restrictions, specifying that he did not want either maintenance staff or cleaners entering the apartment for the duration of his stay. His request for total privacy was obviously taken on board by the letting agent, who fully understood the reasons given and the need for complete isolation understanding that the client was a writer and seclusion was essential. The fact that the rent for the apartment was extortionate, given the location, was no doubt a more realistic reason for meeting the assassin’s request.

Having made himself a coffee and sampled a few snacks from the well-stocked fridge it was now time to rest, but only after one more task was completed. Switching on his small laptop our assassin checks that the Wi-Fi connection provided is working, which it is, and with the speed of a touch typist he works online to establish the information and communication links that will be essential in the next day or so, especially the final details before the kill!

Our assassin’s birth name remains a mystery only known to him, but his clients know him as Laurent Keller, a pseudonym he has used for several years and one which up till now had gained the respect of his patron. When required, Keller has used several other false passports and documents, together with vehicle registration plates covertly stored with his other professional tools of his trade. All that is known of him is that he is of European stock, probably Swiss, has proficient bilingual skills, is tall in stature and in his late thirties. Throughout his extremely dangerous and professional career he had never voiced political beliefs, neither had he shown any sign of remorse towards his assignment targets, failure is not a word he readily accepts. He had never met his direct clients and is solely instructed and paid by his patron known only as Arête. Keller’s knowledge of systems is unquestionable, developed in his earlier years working as an operational mercenary. Few if any are aware of his cover when not ‘operational’ as all aspects of his private life remain a mystery, he is however knowledgeable in the world of fine art and trades throughout Europe using a number of galleries who merchandise his pieces. This serves him well as he enjoys this work which allows him to travel the world unnoticed.

By 9.00 am Keller is satisfied that the details of his assignment are on track, having double checked each step of his assignment meticulously, whilst ensuring that his patron remains in constant contact should any change take place. Having finally confirmed his arrival with the letting agent, at a local Venetian business owned by a Sandro Busato, all that now remained was to catch up with his sleep before revisiting the assignment target area later in the afternoon.

Keller having completed his preparatory tasks then secured the slide bolt on the apartment door and made his way back to the bedroom, then set the bedside alarm and simply slumped onto the large double bed and within seconds was asleep. At 1.00pm Keller is awakened by the alarm and slowly lifted himself off the comfortable bed that provided him with adequate rest before his next task. Walking into the lounge and glimpsing through one of the slats of the blind he observed the empty courtyard below which registered a scene of peaceful solitude. After a quick shower he dressed in casual attire looking every part the tourist, grabbed his camera and tourist map, but before leaving the apartment ensured that covert measures were in place to record the presence of any person who should enter the apartment during his absence, a ritual he never overlooked. After locking the front door of the apartment he hastily descends the stairs exited, through the courtyard he made his way to Fondamente Nove vaporetto pontile, where he would take the watercraft that travels to the Lido. On route he purchased a vaporetto travel card which will give him access to any number of journeys for a period of 48 hours, which he has estimated would be long enough to complete his assignment.

At the pontile Keller patiently awaited the arrival of vaporetto No. 4.1 which would take him to Giardini. At the Giardini he alighted the vaporetto and walked the short distance to the Biennale, Venice’s prestigious Art Exposition, which began slightly earlier than previous years due to the scope and variety of its artistic themes. Once Keller had arrived at the main body of the Expo he carefully studied the local terrain before purchasing a session ticket which allowed him access the following day. Biennale had provided Keller with the opportunity to integrate some pleasure with his criminal activities and more importantly create a shield of credibility by providing an alibi for tomorrow’s assignment. His thoughts now turned to rehearsing and rechecking each avenue of detail to accomplish his assignment, and review step by step the master-plan he devised five weeks earlier when in Venice.

Returning to the Giardini pontile Keller waited patiently for the arrival of the No. 5.2 vaporetto, sharing the floating platform with a group of tourists, who were also travelling across the Lagoon to the Lido. The vaporetto arrived at its scheduled time, as is normally the case and after waiting for the crowded vessel to unload its passengers, the awaiting passengers boarded the motor craft. Once on board the vaporetto Keller made his way to the front of the vessel and sat on the only remaining seat available, sharing the port cabin with a boisterous group of seven English tourists who had previously visited the Biennale. Although the passage across the Lagoon to the Lido is only a short journey, Keller’s concentration on his immediate task was interrupted by the noise and humour expressed by his fellow passengers who were quite vocal.

One vociferous passenger was heard to say, ‘I found the English Pavilion really interesting Rachael, perhaps we should revisit it once more before returning home.’

To which another member of the group replied,

‘Perhaps Alan, although our celebration schedule for Dexter tomorrow is quite full, let’s decide in the morning once we have sobered up!’

Although Keller’s concentration had been interrupted he did listen with interest to the remainder of the group’s conversation, which centred on the variety and style of excellent contemporary art that was on display at the Biennale.

In less than twenty minutes the vaporetto had arrived at the Lido and the vessel having been secured, allowed the passengers to disembark. Getting on and off a crowded vaporetto isn’t always a joy and Keller’s patience was pushed somewhat by impatient passengers who pushed their way forward with little regard for anyone else. Once off the vessel Keller had one more task to perform, that of renting a cycle that would aid his escape plan once he had completed his assignment. Having now left the vaporetto terminal he crossed the wide main street ahead of him, carefully avoiding the path of a large vehicle transporter whose driver was obviously uncertain as to which direction he should take. A small incident anywhere else maybe, but in the centre of the Lido created a great deal of vocal abuse causing a hazard for traffic, mainly due to the fact that the transporter was delivering a sizable motorhome.

Keller soon located the cycle rental shop in the busy Gran Viale S.M. Elisabettta then negotiated with the owner to hire a cycle for a period of 4 days, which he knew would allow him sufficient time to complete his business. Now armed with his cycle and map of the Lido he left the hire shop fully prepared to cycle the remaining 10k of the Lido following the contour of the Lagoon which would eventually take him to the ferry terminal at Alberoni. In doing so he was amazed just how little traffic there was on the picturesque roads of the island, which pleased him. His journey was far less arduous than he had expected as he slowly passed the Lagoon to his right and the Malamocco (Adriatic) on his left, before eventually arriving at the small ferry terminal at the far eastern side of the island. At Alberoni he had a short wait before the ferry arrived and simply walked on board with his cycle for the ten minute crossing to Pellestrina, again he was pleased to find that there were only two cars and a bus being transported across the Lagoon.

On a previous visit Keller had thought to himself that Pellestrina was one of the most attractive islands in the Venetian Lagoon, an oasis of peace overlooked by the millions of tourists who visit Venice each year. Although the geographic appearance and contour of the island seems miniscule in relation to mainland Venice it nevertheless provided an idyllic location to savour both the Adriatic and the Lagoon almost simultaneously. In less than ten minutes the ferry arrived at Pellestrina, following which its passengers and vehicles disembarked quickly, leaving Keller to remount his cycle and continue his ride for a further 11k on the flat and well laid road.

Cycling away from the ferry landing stage had a calming effect on Keller as he slowly peddled past hedgerow that shielded small meres of trapped lagoon water which harboured all kinds of fauna. Alone in the stillness of this small but well surfaced road reminded him of the days past when he cycled the surrounding lakes of his homeland. Before long he found he had arrived at the picturesque harbour of Pellestrina which provided the setting for the multitude of fishing vessels along its waterfront, each craft built to work the adjoining Adriatic.

This part of his journey on Pellestrina proved to be equally as pleasant as he cycled the empty and charismatic coastal road that followed the contour of the sea-wall, known as the Murrazi, to the left and the bamboo vegetation which shielded the many houses, buildings and farmland to the right. This peaceful and well maintained road provided the main access for vehicles travelling west, as though to protect the privacy of the indigenous population from any tourists who could spoil their peace and tranquillity, especially around the town centre and boat harbour on the North side of the island.

In less than an hour’s cycling Keller had reached the cemetery situated close to the little ferry terminal at the far west of Pellestrina, which transported pedestrian passengers and cyclists onward to mainland Chioggia. For the remaining part of his journey Keller now had to cycle the entire length of the gravel road alongside the cemetery until it joined the very long and high sea-wall passage that separated the Adriatic from the Lagoon. Once at the end of the sea-wall he would finally arrive at the remains of an old and disused villa. From this point he would then have to make his way by foot along a preserved forest area until he reached the furthermost point of the island.

From the cemetery to the forest area would be the most risky and enduring part of his journey on the day of his assignment, as it extended for some considerable distance. Keller knew full well that his eventual escape along this exposed route would have to be completed in the shortest possible time to avoid being seen by anyone. For this reason only, Keller had now to secure and hide his rented cycle in a secluded area of the remote forest and recover it for part of his return journey once he had completed his task, which would enable him to get back to the bus terminal at the cemetery much quicker.

The Adriatic sunshine bounced off of the high sea-wall as Keller cycled along the narrow footpath occasionally stopping to look at the rickety fisherman’s huts that projected out on stilts, each positioned some 20m from the Lagoon side of the sea-wall. He took time to check the depth of water between the path and the hut’s, which was an important feature of his plan. Finally, having cycled the entire length of the sea-wall path, which took him 20 minutes he then dismounted from his cycle and followed the forest trail until he reached a suitable location where he could hide his cycle until it was needed for his return visit. Satisfied that his cycle was well camouflaged he continued walking until he reached a small area of reclaimed land, large enough to accommodate an old fishing vessel. This derelict vessel having originally been propped up for restoration some years earlier and now forgotten, was positioned close to a large heap of Istrian stone, which Keller knew would be an ideal location to complete his task.

This remote but accessible location provided Keller with a distant but clear view of his intended target which to a trained marksmen was viable, all that remained was to finalise some ballistic details for his assignment. Having previously discovered this location while planning his assignment it was now time to finalise the detail. Seeing that there were two possible areas to sight his rifle, having now seen the area close to hand, he decided that it would be best to use the elevated cabin of the old fishing boat as it provided better protection from passing eyes. The door to the vessel being unlocked was easy to enter and once inside Keller had a clear view across the Lagoon with the town of Chioggia in the distance, more importantly was the view to the Mose Project construction site which was currently being built. This mammoth construction project costing billions of euros was the reason why he was here, it began in 2003 and was now 80% complete and when finished would provide 28 integrated mobile gates (dams) in total, each designed to control tidal surges of up to 3m in height. In doing so, Venice and its surrounding islands, together with their inhabitants, would at least stand a chance when future tidal surges threaten the Lagoon.

Preservation and Global Warming however were far from Keller’s thoughts as he studied the construction area between Pellestrina and Chioggia, he was only interested in the fact that his assigned target would be within his rifle sights from this vantage point, in less than 24 hours! All that remained now was to reassure himself that the location was suitable and once he had made his preliminary checks he was satisfied, he then spent a further few minutes studying the immediate vicinity around the vessel, looking for any trace of activity, there was none.

Having satisfied himself that his detailed planning was achievable, Keller took over an hour to walk back to the small ferry/bus terminal near to Pellestrina Cemetery, knowing that on his next visit he would have the cycle to assist in his escape, hopefully unseen. Once at the bus terminal Keller travelled back in much the same manner, only this time as a bus passenger and not a cyclist. There was nothing left for him to do today other than return to his apartment in Cannaregio, contact his client and finalise several important details, but before doing so he had decided to have dinner on the Lido.

Chapter 2

Due east from Cannaregio across the shimmering sparkle of the Ventian Lagoon lies the historic island of the Lido that attracts many tourists who enjoy mile after mile of sandy Adriatic beaches. At the eastern end of the island sits one of several apartment sites that also cater for motorhome owners who make the ferry crossing trip from mainland Italy. On one such site located on Strada Elvera a new motorhome had just arrived and the site owner Luigi Degi, was busily sectioning an area to accommodate this new vehicle, which had only arrived from the Veneto in the last hour. The transporter driver who delivered the vehicle was now waiting patiently for a delivery signature before leaving, however there was one small problem, the vehicle owner had yet to arrive.

In typical Latin fashion the atmosphere surrounding the vehicle had begun to erupt as everyone was now anxious to complete the transaction and move on, however the delay continued and both the site owner and transporter driver knew the problem would not be resolved until the new owner had arrived. There remained one other factor to consider, that even though the May skies were clear and bright, darkness was not far off the horizon.

Having waited for over an hour the agitated transporter driver now seriously considered reloading the motorhome and returning it to the supplier, when, at this sensitive point in procedures the tone of a cell net phone could be heard. The site owner answered his phone and to his relief he realised immediately who the caller was.

‘Mr Degi, this is Dexter Grant calling, sincere apologies for being late, there were problems loading the ferry, I’ve now disembarked and will be with you in a matter of minutes.’ True to his word within two minutes a cyclist entered the site and hastily made his way to the awaiting vehicle transporter.

‘A thousand apologies my friend,’ shouted the exhausted cyclist, ‘having sorted my own storage items there were other problems with a delivery vehicle which delayed the crossing from Tronchetto.’

Unsympathetic to Dexter’s apologies there followed a few heated words of complaint by the transporter driver, but were soon abated when he was handed a €50 note for his patience. Still mildly grumbling in his cabin, the driver having obtained the signatures of receipt eventually started his vehicle pulled away leaving Dexter with Luigi Degi the site owner, who by now seemed more relaxed.

‘Let’s get your motorhome correctly sited and coupled up to the utilities before it gets completely dark,’ suggested Luigi, ‘then we can finalize the site rental agreement and all go home!’

‘Good idea,’ replied Dexter, ‘once again sorry for the delay in arriving.’

Like most new generation motorhomes Dexter’s vehicle was fitted with a hydraulic platform that enabled him to transport a motor scooter at the rear, this useful accessory gave him two wheels to use whenever his home was on a camp site. Both Dexter and Luigi unsure of the controls for the platform simply left the scooter secured, knowing that the scooter was immobile underneath its cover.

Luigi didn’t appear to be put out by the late arrival of Dexter, he wouldn’t, because a month earlier he had been paid a year’s site rental in advance, which although expensive in normal terms did allow Dexter access throughout the autumn and winter, after all this was now his home.

‘Thanks for all your help Luigi,’ said Dexter, ‘at least I have a home for this evening, hopefully my storage cases will arrive shortly’. At that point Luigi headed for his small office, close to the entrance to the site, carefully following the beam of his torch as darkness descended upon the Lido.

By now Dexter was already enthusiastically removing the plastic covers from the internal features of his new motorhome, at the same time re-discovering just how comfortable and spacious the internal dimensions of his home were, since it was originally purchased. This he thought would be ideal as a place of residence for the next few years, also allowing him freedom to travel. Sensibly, when the motorhome was purchased Dexter specified almost every item of household fixtures and fittings that were required to live comfortably, including bedding and several electrical items such as a TV. All that now remained to arrive were personal accessory items and clothing which had been in storage and would be coming by local courier from Dexter’s favourite Venetian hotel, Santa Chiara, where he had been a guest for the past three months. This gem of a hotel had served him well for several years and was close to both the bus and railway station and perfectly situated close to his favourite bar and bistro’s.

Keller remained seated throughout his journey back to the Lido, and although it was now evening he was enchanted by what he saw through the limited view that the windows allowed him as a passenger on the bus. By 6.30pm the bus had arrived at the depot at S.M. Elisabetta where all the passengers alighted. Not totally familiar with the Lido, Keller made for the nearest restaurant which was a small bistro named Laguna and took a seat near the bar, by now he was ready to eat and chose from what he considered was a limited menu. On any other occasion he would have left and found a better place to eat but tonight wasn’t about cuisine simply nourishment. The waiter seemed surprised that Keller didn’t order an alcoholic drink, but nevertheless at this time of the year was pleased to have his custom seeing as the tourist season was by no means underway.

By 6.30pm Dexter was almost settled into his new abode and by now had removed the protective covering on the interior furnishings of the motorhome, but as yet there was still no sign of the delivery van with his personal items. The thought had occurred to him that the driver may have decided to call the following day as it was now fairly late in the afternoon, and not having the courier’s mobile number Dexter decided to call the depot, but there was no answer so he assumed everyone had gone home for the day. By now fairly tired and hungry he decided to cycle into the centre of town on his trusty Brompton cycle, rather than use his new scooter, and get something to eat.

The journey into town took just ten minutes, there was hardly any traffic using the picturesque Riviera S. Maria Elisabetta and once Dexter manipulated the central island by the bus depot he noticed several bistro’s and restaurant’s which were open for business and chose the first he came upon called Laguna. He decided not to eat alfresco even with the exterior heaters making conditions extremely comfortable outside and chose a nice table by the window. The waiter produced a limited menu, which was the custom out of season, Dexter then ordered and sat back to enjoy a glass of red wine from the carafe he ordered, this being in complete contrast to the only other customer in the bistro who was sitting several tables away in a secluded corner, obviously more interested in his camera and tourist map that he was studying.

Much had happened in the life of Dexter Grant over the past two years, his marriage had ended, both he and his wife finally realising that they were not best suited to sharing their lives together, having amicably agreed that being single was the better option. Dexter was an orphan, his parents had adopted him as a baby, but were then middle aged and had passed away shortly before he entered university, and as an only child he had no family ties having lived in London for the

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