Light, he reminded himself. I must be light. No one was looking at him. They were standing in clusters, drinking wine and eating canapés. Being unnoticed was a good start.
Pickpocket, he reminded himself. He must be as a pickpocket. A pickpocket selects his mark at a distance, and there was the director on the other side of the room. The director had promotions galore in his deep pockets, and he should be distracted by a day of sitting through presentations and by the contents of the empty wine glass he was putting in side in favour of a full one.
Gravel path, he reminded himself. He must treat the ground between himself and his mark as if it was a gravel path that would reveal his approach if he trod too heavily. He floated across the room, collecting a glass of wine from a circulating waiter who did not look up at his passing.
Light as a pickpocket on a gravel path, he reminded himself. That meant he must not drink the wine. He needed it because a man in a reception looks out of place without a glass in his hand, and a pickpocket must look as though he belongs. He must not drink the wine because a man with an empty glass looks even more out of place than a man with no glass, and then he must take a second glass in order to blend in. A man who drank one glass will invariably drink a second and then a third, and no one ever picked a pocket on a gravel path when he was seeing the pocket through a blur.
He was at the director’s elbow before the director knew he was in the room. He nodded to the woman the director was talking to, picking up the conversation about the stock price so he could slip in an insight of his own.
He stepped forward and opened his mouth to speak. The director waved his glass to emphasise a point. The glass hit him in the face. The director’s hand rebounded to pour the wine down the director’s tie. The director glared. “Who the hell are you?”
He backed away, wincing as though the carpet rattled like gravel under his feet.
“I was just looking for the gents,” he said.