Ethan looked at his watch. 6:10pm. He entered the McDonalds on the opposite side of the street. Only one cashier worked, so he stood in the queue and while the family before him ordered their Happy Meal menus he scanned the restaurant with a trained eye, automatically taking a note of every door and window in his mind. He was almost sure that there'll be no need to escape, but there's always a slight chance when one's on the run. The chance is a bit bigger if one's searched by the CIA. He looked at the people around him, moving his head just as he was bored while waiting. There were some backpacks big enough for bombs, but there was no sign of danger, no familiar faces, and he had made sure that he wasn't followed. The family paid and moved to a table with their trays. He stepped to the counter and ordered a coke and small fries. While he poured coke into his paper cup he looked around again, this time to find a suitable person. There were mostly couples, families, friends, he only saw four people sitting alone at tables. His cup was almost half full. One of them was a woman in her sixties - she might be too difficult to convince to be part of his plan. Another is a man in his thirties, blonde hair, but his clothes are too bold, too memorable. The woman in an elegant skirt probably came from an office. He decided the young man in the hoodie will do. He put his drink on his tray and sat down to the boy's table, opposite him. He was reading a Marvel comic book, and his tray was full of fries, at least three big fries were poured over his tray. Ethan grimaced in disgust.
"Hallo," he said to draw the boy's attention to himself.
"Ja?" the boy looked up. He was probably around nineteen, he had brown hair, wide jaw. Nothing extraordinary.
"Do you speak English?" Although Ethan spoke German fairly well and he could mimic Austrian, Swiss and Slav accents while doing so as well, he decided that as an American he may be more successful in this case.
"Yes." The boy looked at him with a bored and annoyed expression, he clearly wanted Ethan to leave him alone, but he pretended not to notice that.
"Great. I was wondering if I'd give you forty euros, would you all spend it on fries?" he nodded toward his tray.
"I don't know what you want from me, but if I guess well, then I have to tell you that it's the worst pickup line I've ever heard."
Ethan managed to hold his laughter back and tamed it into a smile.
"I want to offer you a job. What are you doing tonight?"
"I have a date," he answered distrustfully. Ethan saw immediately that he was lying, but he didn't care about it much.
"Are you free until seven?"
"It's something illegal, right?"
"I have to know first that you're willing to do it before I tell about it, but it's not illegal. It's delivering a package."
"What package?" He grabbed up some fries and put them in his mouth. Ethan put the brown A4 envelope on the table. The boy dipped a fry in the ketchup and looked at the package then at Ethan in disbelief.
"For how much?"
"This envelope? For forty euros? Where, to Alaska?"
"To the Karlsplatz metro station. You should go soon." He looked at his watch, 6:23.
"Man, I hope you know this whole thing is hella weird." Ethan didn't respond, just watched him. The boy dropped the fry into the ketchup. It sank. The boy asked, hesitantly, "What, you have a gun? What happens if I say no? You kill me right here?"
"You read too much of those comic books. I don't have a gun. If you said no, I'd go and ask someone else."
The boy nervously wiped his hands with the paper on the tray. He let out a deep sigh.
"Can I have a question?"
"What's in it?"
Ethan handed him the envelope. It was open. The boy peered into it, he looked a bit disappointed. Ethan put two twenty euro banknotes on the table.
"Okay, I'll take it. Should I close it?"
"No, leave it open. Here's the man." Ethan put a picture of Benji front of the boy. "He'll come by the U2 line, he arrives at Karlsplatz between 6:35 and 6:50. When he gets off, you walk past him and put the envelope in his hand. Got it?"
The boy nodded. "And then what?"
"Then you walk to the end of the platform. Melt into the crowd. Then you do whatever you want. Go on your date." The boy looked surprised for a second, he forgot his own lie.
"And what if he doesn't come?"
"He will. Wait till seven."
"Yeah, but if he doesn't come, maybe, what do I do with the package?"
"Throw it to the bin on the platform."
The boy lifted his eyebrow and nodded.
"Now go." He put the banknotes in his hand. "Thank you. Have a nice evening." He smiled widely. The boy got up, thrust his comic book and the banknotes into his bag, then looked at Ethan questioningly. He took a sip of his coke and nodded.
"Uhm, goodbye, then." He grabbed the envelope and left the restaurant. He looked back at Ethan from the door.
Ethan laid back on his chair with a faint smile. Everything was going according to the plan, and if it'll go according to the plans the whole evening, he might be able to end this nightmare soon. With luck, he can bring down the Syndicate this week. His smile widened as he thought about Benji. It's going to be good to see him again.
He looked at his watch, stood up and left the restaurant. He put his hand into his pocket and pulled out the opera ticket next to his gun.