It wasn’t dark yet.
The wind was whipping off the canals hard enough to make Nils tighten the scarf around his neck, then pull down the wool cap on his head, stretching it in an attempt to cover as much skin as possible. It was early winter – things would get a lot colder in the coming months. But today – at this moment – it was clear, cold, gray, and very, very windy.
He wasn’t in a rush, but he had to be somewhere at a particular time, and so walked briskly. His partner, Demi, knew he had something specific to do, but no more than that. Nils liked it that way – the bottom line was this: anyone who asked too many questions wasn’t going to be around very long. But Demi gave him plenty of space, and they had fun together, so Nils was comfortable just enjoying the their time together and seeing how things played out.
The streets were crowded with people walking in a disordered fashion; the problem was that what was street and what was sidewalk wasn’t clearly delineated. He was always fascinated by how, if you kind of put your head down a little bit, and didn’t look anyone in the face (it was important not to meet anyone’s eyes), even in the most chaotic crowds you could just kind of go on autopilot and people would naturally create a space for you to walk in. The effect, however, is ruined if you actually look at anyone.
If you walk in this manner, you could be a billionaire or a pauper, a priest or an assassin, a captain of industry or homeless, a genius or a dimwit – no one walking by you would ever know or even give it a thought, because to them you’d become invisible. It’s some weird quirk of human nature, and he could confirm that it was the same all over the world.
Nils liked paying attention to the world around him – especially people. If you really watch, they’ll tell you things without ever even knowing it. This effect works best when you’re watching individuals in a group of people – in these situations you can closely observe behavior, body language, and facial expression in real time while they are interacting with their group – all the while they are completely unaware of you watching them. You’ve really got to look closely and watch for “tells” – little mannerisms that give away their true thoughts and intentions. With enough data, you can get this down to a science.
Glancing at his watch, it looked like he was going to have some time to kill, so he decided to stop at a cafe in the square and do some some people watching. You never know what might present itself, he thought. If you watch for it, life will often tell you what to do next.