When I heard the knock at the rear door, I checked the security camera. Standing at my door were both Sylvia and Peter. I could also see his car parked in front of mine in the wide alley. He had obviously driven Sylvia into work. Since they had left work separately yesterday, there had to be a story in that.
The time stamp on the computer set their arrival time ad 7:52. At least they were on time. I also noted that Sylvia had a plain brown bag, the kind mothers used to pack their kid’s lunch for school. It was also the kind that Helen used in her Sit Down.
Since she had only one bag and Helen’s Sit Down packed each breakfast in it’s own bag, it was obvious they had already eaten. It seemed to be only a slight stretch to assume they ate together. I found that interesting as well. As usual I was amazed at how easy it was to gain information. It just wasn’t relevant information.
“Good morning Maxine,” Sylvia said.
“Yes, good morning boss,” Peter said.
“Good morning children did you sleep well,” I forced myself not to smile.
“I did,” Sylvia said putting an end to the Q &A about where she slept.
“Peter, I hope you did as well, since I plan to make you earn your place in our little band of Gypsies.” I said to him.
“I did Maxine, so what is my chore?” he asked.
“That depends, have you finished your simulation?” I asked.
“It is up to date, but I am sure you will think of other things to add,” he said smiling at me.
“Possibly, but for now you can sit in the passenger seat and we will discuss the simulation. If you need to adjust it, you can do so as we drive. If we finish before we arrive in DC you can drive.” I would be happy to turn the driving over to him. “Sylvia you can drive some as well.”
“Maxine I do not have a driver’s license.” she said.
Suddenly the small scooter made even more sense. “Okay, well then you can be the navigator.”
“I have the trip already laid out in detail,” Peter said.
“Of course you do honey,” I said it taking the brown bag for him. Peter took the dress bag I had used to transport my red dress to the Emmy awards banquet. I also had a small duffel bag with my running togs and underwear slung over my shoulder.
“If either of you want coffee now is the time,” I suggested as I filled my largest delta cup with half day old coffee. When it was done, we were out the back door in a flash. The large ugly red Chevy was more comfortable than any of the cars I had ever owned. I was pretty sure that it would also be a better ride than Peter’s sporty looking econobox.
I left the alley at just a little after 8:30 AM. Our ETA was 2PM more or less. The reality network had booked me a mini suite at the Diplomat Lodge just outside Washington. I had no idea what the hell it would be like, nor did I much care.
We were on the expressway headed north when I managed to get the bagel bag open. I just wanted them to see me eat, I didn’t need the food at all. I chewed on the bagel and the simple taste receptors allowed me to identify it as a bread with a sweet cheese addition. If anyone asked, I would know that it was a sweet cheese on some kind of chewy bread. In my mechanical mind the bagel with cream cheese analysis was easy to locate and classify. In other words I knew what I was eating from the taste not just the name.
When I finished it and half my coffee, I turned my attention to Peter and the game. “So what is the most likely scenario?” I asked.
“I was very careful not to weight the probabilities, since we had discussed a possible outcome,” he began.
“Peter, if I didn’t trust you, you would not be here. So just tell me the outcome, I most likely wouldn’t understand the steps.” I knew that I would understand, I just didn’t care. It bored me.”
“The probability of it happening like we said is 66%, which is very high for this kind of thing,” he informed me. “Anything over fifty is almost a guarantee.”
“So now how is he going to know the senator is close?” I asked.
“He has to have a second person closer to the start being his spotter. It is interesting information, but significantly irrelevant to your requirements.”
“How so?” I asked.
“You aren’t trying to catch the people responsible, just stop this attempt.” he said.
“Very good, you have your eye on the prize,” I said. “So what do you have for me?”
“The game identified half a dozen likely sites. The three most likely sites for the hit are a half mile section that runs through a city park. It would give the shooter easy access to the race and an easy escape route. That one has the highest probability,” he said.
“Yeah I like it, what else?” I asked.
“A stretch in front of a couple of hotels. Lots of people coming and going there. Easy to hide in plain sight,” he informed me.
“Yeah not too many people are going to stop a man with a gun but they would get a good look at him. I can see why this site is not number one.” I said.
“The third has several blocks of commercial buildings lining the street. If he could get on and off the street there would be lots of places to disappear,” Peter said.
“So it looks like lots of places are possible. I guess I need to make friends with the senator and run along with him or just behind him.” I sipped on my cold coffee and gave it some more thought. I had a pretty good idea of what to look for and some indication where it might happen. Time to start at least narrowing it down some.
I made the decision to speak out loud. Peter could plug my thinking into his game wherever possible. “Okay I’m the shooter’s team leader. After I have figured out the how next comes the where. I scout the route and find what you have told me just now. So which one am I going to choose?” I asked myself.
Peter wanted to answer, “The one with the best chance of success.”
“True but success to me is not necessarily escape. Success is killing the target. Escape of the shooter is desired but not completely necessary. I want a high probability of his escape, but that isn’t my primary consideration.” I said thoughtfully.
“What is?”Peter asked.
“The hit Peter. That is the number one consideration. To do that I have to have the Senator still in the run. With every mile he is more likely to drop out for medical reasons or just being fucking old.” I said.
“So they want to do the job before he goes too far?” Peter asked.
“Wouldn’t you? So give me your high probability sites within the first five miles,” I demanded.
Five minutes later Peter said, “Okay, highest probability within five miles is a short run through a smaller park. The route goes through there to avoid a high traffic intersection. It is a short run though only a quarter of a mile.”
“Okay, I’ll keep that in mind. What else?”
“The only other one over 50% is a residential section with small front yards. Historically crowds do not gather there. Some of the residents will come out to watch, but no large crowds.” Peter said.
“Peter I am impressed with the depth of your research. With the game I am holding my opinion until after tomorrows race.” I drank more coffee. “So I need to be the most vigilant at those locations.”
“Yes and the other reason it chose the park over the residential section was that the racers will be spread out by the time the get to the park, so surveillance will be easier for the co conspirator.
“I’m already impressed Peter you don’t need to pile it on. One thing we have going for us, is a hit on a running man is going to require the shooter to get right up on him. Especially if they go with a .22. That makes it almost certainly a contact shot.” I could tell Peter was questioning it. What?” I asked.
“What is a contact shot?” he asked.
“Barrel in contact with the target,” I said “If me being close to the senator prevents the attempt, that will be fine as well.” I looked over and saw that Peter was going to be disappointed if nothing happened. He had taken his eye off the prize.
“So Peter, see if you can find a website for this Diplomat Lodge,” I suggested.
“Oh I doubt I can find a hook up spot out here. Maybe when we get inside a town somewhere we can find a McDonalds,” he suggested.
“You are right, I have no idea what I was thinking.” I could pull up the site myself but I didn’t want to do that. I had to keep myself in check. All this new stuff was a constant temptation.
‘Why did I do it Officer, I did it because I could.’ I laughed inwardly. I was surprised that the controller made no comment. Must be napping, I thought.
I saw the McDonalds sign before I reached the exit. I needed coffee more than anything, but we could always use gas. First Peter filled the tank, then we switch drivers so that he was the one who drove into the fast food parking lot. I had him go through the drive through. Four large coffees and apple pies for the kids, as I thought of them, seconds later we pulled into a parking space.
“Now check the Diplomat Lodge online. I want to know what kind of dump they put us in,” I demanded. I looked back at Sylvia sitting quietly in the rear seat. She had said less than a hundred words the whole first two hours on the road. I had no intention of making her speak. My only real thought was that I would kill for that body.
“Since these guys are in DC they are very web savvy.” Peter said. “There are pictures of the exact suite we have.”
He pushed the computer to me. The rooms seemed to be pretty ordinary. The damn thing was five hundred bucks and change a night. The Lodge wasn’t that fancy. It was just a standard three story stucco motel with the top floor designed as all mini suits. It looked to me as the second room had two sofas which could be turned into two half beds to accommodate the overflow. I wasn’t impressed, nor was I depressed. My feelings were pretty neutral about the accommodations.
We were on the road again when Sylvia finally spoke. “Can we talk about the party tonight?” she asked.
“Of course what about it?” I asked.
“I know the purpose is for us to increase your exposure, so that you get invited to more parties,” she said.
“Yes and to get the names of people to invite to our parties,” I interjected.
“Do we have to be more than just friendly with any of the people there?” she asked.
If Peter hadn’t been in the car I would have said, You are not going to be required to turn tricks if that was what you are worried about. Instead I said, “Sylvia, you can get as friendly as you want, or you can be a perfect bitch, either one will work for what we want to do. We just want to make an impression. I think flirty but cool would do as well as anything.”
The drive was completed with small talk which for three more hours was a challenge. Lots of the time was passed in silence. Since Peter was driving, I ran the MP3 player on it’s special web settings so that I could download the news as well as live radio, like NPR and conservative talk shows as well. No one could say that I wasn’t a well rounded bitch.