Sylvia Porter Petty Bureaucrat
It was after 6 PM when we arrived back at the office. Wilson went to the office at the lands end of the pier and I went to the barge. My phone rang almost as soon as I stepped onto the boat. “Someone named Martin called said it was urgent,” Wilson informed me.
“I’ll call him now,” I said. I knew Wilson expected more since I called him my partner, but some things he wasn’t entitled to know. “He is kind of an agent.”
I hung up quickly and called Martin. “What you got for me.”
“Bodyguard, if you want it. Chinese woman coming to speak at some trade convention. She is pretty much hated by everybody. Chinese are turning down all the offers for bodyguards, So you get to do it without her cooperation. Not to mention state, and CIA may be doing the same thing.”
“How long and this better pay one hell of a lot of money,” I said. It was the worst kind of bodyguard gig. It was really bad that the client didn’t want to cooperate. But to have law enforcement looking for people who acted suspicious was double trouble.
“Two days, then she will be on a flight out of here. The job pays five large and expenses. That’s plenty, and besides you don’t need the money,” Martin said. “If there is an incident we will send backup.”
“I need a cover ID to get close, or someone is going to spot me the first five minutes,” I said.
“We are working on it,” Martin said. “You in or what?”
“I’m in,” I said
I hung up the phone without answering about the money being the way I judged my worth, nothing more. “Wilson we are going to have to put the serial rapist on hold. I have to go guard a Chinese woman, who doesn’t know she has a body guard.”
“What are our parameters,” Wilson asked.
“Hold on cowboy you haven’t heard the best part. The State Department and the CIA may have teams on her as well, also unknown to her,” I said. “I know it’s a recipe for a cluster fuck.”
“You know we could get killed doing this?” Wilson asked.
“First of all there is no we, second I do know and I plan to be very careful. I need you right where you are. That means for those two days no womanizing for you,” I said.
“When does it start?” he asked.
“Day after tomorrow she arrives at the airport. It is on till she leaves from that same airport two days later,” I explained.
“I’m looking up the airport. It is not going to be easy to find her, then tail her, without someone who is also tailing her seeing you. That’s why Martin is coming up with some kind of cover ID,” I explained.
“You know I could build you an ID,” Wilson said sounding hurt.
“Good you can build me a second ID, one I can use if the Martin built one get blown. We will have to build it on the fly,” I said.
“Very challenging,” Wilson said.
“What I am going to have to do is mark her at the airport,” I said. “So how do we do it?”
“The one thing everybody has is at least one cell phone and they are surgically joined to it. So we just have to clone it,” Wilson said. “The technology is out there to do it. I just need to get the crap here by tomorrow.”
“If not we go with a series of GPS markers,” I said. “I’ll just plant one on everything she owns.”
“Well I would rather clone her phone, but if we have to do it your way, I have a bunch of those markers. They were cheap so I bought a gross,” Wilson said.
“With my money,” I said jokingly.
“Of course and you approved it,” he said smiling. “If you have to pose as a professional to do this job, you will also be happy you bought those fancy clothes I insisted you buy.”
“Alright Father Wilson knows best,” I said. “I have to get to Atlanta tomorrow and establish my cover before she gets there.”
“So when are you leaving?” he asked. “It’s a seven hour drive so I’ll leave around midnight. I just don’t know where I’m going or who I am yet. I really want to know before I go driving off to Atlanta half cocked.”
“Well if worst comes to worst, I can have you an identity by 9 AM tomorrow. I would prefer longer, but it will hold up for anyone, short of law enforcement who have finger print scanners,” Wilson said.
“I don’t think that Martin’s will be much better. Only thing is, he has friends in low places. He can get the back story verified,” I said. “He can make me a small time bureaucrat, then get the files altered so that I have been one for ten years.”
“Holy shit that’s some good work, but I can do that,” Wilson said.
“Can you get someone in the office to say, ‘Sure I know Tina, is she in the shit again.’ when someone calls checking?” I asked.
“He can do that?” he asked.
“He can indeed,” I said.
‘Do You Want to Fly?’ the text message I received at 11 PM asked.
‘I will be driving need to get started establishing ID’, I sent back to them.
‘Areo Quik Print has documents waiting. Pick them up after 9 AM in Atlanta. Check into Greenview Hotel across downtown park. Package will be at airport Friday 10 AM. Limo to Greenview as well. Will speak at downtown convention center Saturday at 2 PM. Package will return Sunday 3 PM.’
‘Roger will bio be with documents?’
‘Negative, attach to email as a mp3 file to keep you company on the drive.”
Wilson didn’t know about the secret email account unless he had stumbled on it. I certainly had not told him about it. I downloaded the MP3 file to a player so that I could review the file on the drive to Atlanta.
I took a shower then went back to my bedroom wrapped in a towel. I dressed in baggy pants and a tee shirt. I had a bag hanging in the closet filled with girlie clothes just for occasions like the one I found myself in that night.
I loaded it into the truck passenger seat and drove away from the dock. I got on the interstate highway system at 1 AM and began my seven hour drive to Atlanta Georgia. I stopped only for gas and coffee for the next seven hours. I must have listened to the background biography of Tina Timmons twenty times. I knew it up and down, I thought.
The Greenview Hotel was a turn of the 20th century monster. It had been renovated so many times it was like a ninety year old woman with too many facelifts. It was all plastic looking. It was trying hard to be classy, but under a thin layer of paint and fabric, the bones were dry and brittle.
There was a rumor that in the 1939 when the cast of Gone With The Wind was in town for the premier, they had officially stayed at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, but did their screwing in the Greenview Hotel five blocks away. Maybe it was fitting that the Chinese were staying in the Greenview, since they were no doubt planning on a screwing of the Americans.
There was an appendage to my biography. It was a biography of my Chinese reluctant client Ting. According to Martin’s research it meant Graceful. I hadn’t met her yet, so I would form my own opinion later.
She was some kind of organizational genius. She had helped to establish the factory towns. They were actually patterned on the mill towns of the south in the early part of the twentieth century. Nonetheless she recognized it as the not so perfect model and improved on it. It had been the concept that helped to modernize the country.
She was fifty odd years old and recently buried her husband of twenty years. She was in the United States to discuss how the country was dealing with the second generation modernization. The second generation of change was due to the people acquiring things and with things come new ideas. The government could no longer shape reality to their will. What came next in China was on everyone’s mind. Her speech was just her opinion, but it was better than most. It was also not shared by everyone. At home and abroad there were those who would like to stifle her.
So they weren’t trying to stop her giving the speech. That made it more difficult since there was no definite time line at all. They could do it five minutes before she left and be just as happy. Also there was no guarantee that the shooter would be oriental. They could easily contract it out.
It just kept getting better and better, I thought as I sat in a waffle house restaurant. I had arrived in Atlanta an hour before the print shop opened. So of course I sat drinking coffee and eating an only so so waffle. When the print shop finally opened, I was the first one through the doors. I said to the chubby girl behind the counter, “I’m Tina Timmons you are holding a package for me.”
“Yes we are. The order came in by email last night. Since the credit card was good, we went ahead and published them. So here you go,” she said handing me a thick folder. I knew that what it held was black market documents.
“Thanks,” I said.
Once back at my truck I read through the papers. As I suspected Martin went with the anonymous government worker for the base. In the package were other IDs as well. I always wanted to work for the CDC, I said to myself. There was a fax on the way. It told the Greenview management that I was on the way. I would be there to test the rooms for environmental toxins. It was necessary since their last renovations contractor was a known polluter. It was so far fetched it would no doubt get a little initial interest, then everyone would cooperate.
I chose to check into the Greenview to shower and dress before presenting myself to the manager. It also took and hour to get a lot of plastic bags and string tags from a department store. I couldn’t find anything that looked like a collection kit, but I did find a mish mash of tools there. I had tiny scissors and a scalpel all from the pharmacy section of the Mega Discount Store.
When I presented myself to the manager I was dressed in a pair of pants and a matching blazer. I also wore conservative but fashionable shoes and carried a bag with my ID card inside.
“Good morning,” I said presenting him with a copy of the fax and email which Martin had sent to the office of Greenview Ltd Partnership’s office. “I am here to check for toxins in this hotel from the last renovation in 2010,” I said.
“Why now, I mean that was over two years ago,” the manager said.
“The easy answer is mine is not to reason way, but only to follow orders,” I said. “The real answer is we found some of the materials used by one of Merritt and Son’s sub contractors to be toxic on a later job. Now we have to check every job they ever worked,” I said.
“How long will this take,” the manager asked.
“Sir, it will take however long it takes to certify your hotel clear of toxins. Don’t worry I have a room here, and I will try to be as inconspicuous as possible.”
“I doubt that,” he said.
“Sir, your second choice is, I could ask you to vacate the hotel one floor at a time while I take samples or you could allow me to make random checks. It is your call,” I said.
“Shit,” he said turning to the assistant manager. “See that she gets whatever she wants.”
Edited by Walt