>NEVER A FRONTWARD STEP, PART FOUR

>The next morning, summer attacked tourists like a frantic mugger. I sat at a table in a busy outdoor cafe and watched them get king-hit, one by one, stepping from the air-conditioned lobby of a nearby hotel. The hotel’s doorman—himself exhibiting superhuman heat tolerance inside his full regal coat—positioned himself to catch each day-tripper as they fell, piling them together in a shady alcove like kindling.

I had been up before the sun, furnishing myself with cooler and more unobtrusive clothes from an all-night chain store. I sat back like a local now, acting surprised by the change in weather, but able to compensate by retrieving summer clothes from the back of my wardrobe. I wore a sun-faded singlet like many of those around me, and completed the image with long khaki shorts and cheap acrylic slides. My bare white legs hummed in the light—the only part of me that really gave the game away. I thought to myself a day might be well spent obtaining a discreet fake tan.

The remnants of last night’s fickle breeze tapped hairs on my neck. Inside my copy of the local newspaper—a broadsheet infuriatingly condescended into tabloid—was concealed a small manila folder with a single photograph taped inside it. In the photo was a man’s face, and wasn’t smiling, and he wasn’t frowning, but he had a serene look of blankness about him, unaware of the trouble he was about to cause. I was sick of this photo. It had been my only companion on a thirteen-hour plane trip, but despite my revulsion for his face, I knew I was not allowed to forget it.

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