It was up to Happy to convince Wilson to take the job even though it meant starting his own company. If he said no, I would just be forced to use the Swamp’s nerd, if he would do it. The investigation might go to committee hearings and I might be questioned. The nerd couldn’t be sure I wouldn’t roll over on him. Wilson shouldn’t worry about that. He knew how far I would go to protect him.
He knew where I kept the keys to the office, so he could set up there temporarily. He might do that if his apartment was too small. He would most likely want to be hidden away.
“Happy when you talk to Wilson, if he goes for it, give him the cell number you have for me.” I figured he would want to talk to me about something or other. The way it stood now, I had given him all the computer equipment but kept the surveillance equipment. I didn’t have any of it with me, but he could overnight anything I needed. That is he could if he set up shop in my office building. If not I could buy the stuff online and just wait for it to show up. I could also go back to the old way of surveillance, sit across the street with a cup of coffee. Or maybe follow people leaving and buy information. That was always a favorite of mine.
First you find out what is going on then figure out how to prove it. “So Happy, you got any suggestions from the boss?” I asked.
“No he just said to give you this,” she said sliding an envelope over to me. I didn’t even bother to open it. My guess was that it contained an extract of the grant application for the Electric Car Company. It should also have a copy of the FBI biography of Evans as well. Since Evans most likely wrote both files they would probably be useless.
“The file with the names and salaries of each employee is in there. They are just what you wanted, I think,” she said.
“We will see. I have your number Happy. If they won’t do, I’ll call you.” She made a face at the thought of being called, but she didn’t say a word. The investigation was too important to the senator’s career. He had to look like he was doing something besides taking the free haircuts.”
“I’m on the 4 PM flight back to D.C. Think you might give me a ride?” she asked.
“Sure, I need to stop by some discount department store for some clothes. Those are going to wind up on your bill. I need a black running suit. I can drop you at the airport at the same time,” I said.
“You know I didn’t really need to know all that, but now I’m curious. What do you need with a black running suit?” she asked.
“It’s what all the well dressed spies are wearing this year,” I said with a smile.
“Sylvia be careful please,” Happy said as she left my SUV with her small case.
“What is this? Are you are afraid for my safety, or afraid it will turn out to be a Watergate type burglar?” I asked.
“A little of both, probably more of the latter,” she confirmed.
“At least you are honest,” I said.
“Why not I’m not the one facing jail,” she said.
“But there would be a best selling book deal in it,” I admitted. Happy smiled then walked away. I drove the Honda SUV to Wal-Mart. I found a sweat suit that could double as fleece underwear when not in use as a running suit. I also bought a ski mask since it was still cold weather.
While I was in the store, and since I might have to go old school, I bought a good digital camera but not the best one they had in stock. I planned to drive by the plant at 4 PM, which meant I had to rush to the plant site. The drive like most everything in Chattanooga could be done in around fifteen minutes.
I arrived about 20 minutes before shift change so I drove around the block very slowly. I even drove around the block next to the plant. If anyone asked, and I couldn’t see why anyone would, I was going to be lost looking for the office of a local coffee service. It was on the south end of the road but the numbers were the same on the north end. Of course, since I had an ingenious cover story, no one asked.
I got back to the plant a few minutes before the Day shift left the plant. I noticed no one seemed to have arrived for the evening shift. According to the progress report Happy had mentioned they were running two shifts with over a hundred employees total. There were definitely not enough cars to have that number of employees in the plant at shift change.
When the day shift left the plant I shot pictures of the license plates of the people who worked at the plant. I knew I could get the plates run and go see the five most likely to talk. I was pretty sure if I picked the right five at least one would talk. I also knew that the other four of them would probably burn me. If I got burned there was a possibility I would die. Not a good one, but still enough of a possibility that I wanted to avoid it. I didn’t want anyone knowing I was working there, till it was finished.
“So Wilson I guess you talked to Happy,” I said into the phone.
“Yes I did, so you decided you want me to come back?” he asked.
“No, not at all, I’m sorry if Happy gave you that impression. I need you to do some checks for me, but I don’t think we can work together again,” I said. “I had something more along the line of consultant.”
“Fair enough,” he said. Two hundred bucks a name and you get all I can find,” Wilson said.
“How about for a license number,” I asked.
“Sure why not,” he said. “I’ll even run backgrounds on them at the same time, if I can find anything.”
“I need you to give me the addresses of the sites where you setup the web cam uploads, and that GPS program information as well,” I suggested.
“Tell me what email you are using, and I will send you the server information for those sites,” he suggested.
“So I can get you to do basic research but I’m on my own for everything else,” I suggested.
“That’s about it. I will overnight your cameras. You can have a laptop full of all the programs and web sites you need within a couple of hours of their arrival,” Wilson said.
“I guess that does make more sense,” I said. “Pack up the cameras and the GPS locater chips and overnight them to me.”
“I’ll get them on the way tomorrow, so it will be a couple of days,” he said.
“In the meantime I will email you some license plate pictures. Let me know who they belong to and if any of them jumps off the page of the NCIS computer.”
“So you want me to run the license get the names then do an NCIC check and let you know who stands out?” he asked.
“That’s right,” I said.
“Okay but I don’t work cheap. If I go any deeper than NCIC I am going to change more.”
“Didn’t think you did,” I said. “We can negotiate anything on a case by case.”
“Fair enough,” Wilson said. “Since you paid for the computers. I will just charge you a hundred bucks and hour.”
“You don’t have to cut me any slack, I’m going to do a pass through for your invoice, so don’t get cutesy with the wording on the invoices,” I suggested. I need a separate invoice for the lessons. I am not going to pass that through.”
“Okay, I’ll get right on the license plate photos,” Wilson said.
“I’ll be waiting for your report. Take care of yourself,” I said.
“Sylvia, thanks for the work,” he said.
“Don’t thank me yet. I have no idea how much there will be. You might want to think about covering your tracks when you are working. Can’t never tell when you will run into someone as smart as you,” I explained.
“I’ll do that. Now let me get to work,” he said.
“Tell Mel I said hello.” With that I hung up the phone. I stopped on the way home to eat and pick up a bottle of bourbon. Hell I was in Tennessee home of Bourbon whiskey. I felt like I needed to support the area.
It was after nine when my phone rang again. “Hello Sylvia, just wanted to let you know I’m home. I talked to your man from the airport, I think he is on board,” Happy said.
“Yeah he called about two hours ago. I’m glad you got home okay,” I said.
“So what’s your plan for tonight?” she asked.
“I got a few files that need reading, why?” I said.
“You told me you went to chat rooms so I thought I might meet you in one,” she said.
“Well if you do, I don’t want to know it is you,” I said.
“Give me your screen name,” she suggested.
“I’ll use the name LadyBlue in one room,” I suggested and gave her the address of the room.
“Fair enough check in there every night for a while maybe we will hook up,” she said.
“Not tonight for sure. I do have to read the files, but I’ll be in there in the next couple of days,” I suggested.
I did read the files till midnight, then I was just too exhausted to think. I decided to use the motel’s WIFI and go on line. I checked my mail and saw three long emails from Wilson. I decided to let them wait till I was more with it. I removed a coke from the refrig and then mixed up a drink with the bourbon had I bought.
I left the computer and went for ice from the machine down the outside hallway. I saw several of the other residents conducting what I expected was rather shady business deals.
Back in the room while I drank that first drink, I checked out a couple of things I might have wanted to buy later. Finally after two drinks I went into the chat room I said I wouldn’t go into. I was too bored and it wouldn’t hurt to get known.
I signed in as Lady Blue and waited. I got several asl (age, sex, location) hits which I promptly ignored. I hated to talk to anyone so stupid that asl was the best they could do.
Then I got the hit from someone named GirlScout. ‘You a cop?’
Me: Not at the moment but I have been. I have been a lot of things.
GirlScout: You married?
Me: no never been married are you?
GS: Yeah two kids son 8 daughter 10
Me: That’s cool. So your husband know you are in this nasty room?
GS: I will admit it needs a good cleaning.
Me: And some new curtains.
GS: and that sofa is awful
Me: Hey that’s an heirloom
GS: Of course it is… So blue you got a BF.
Me: Not at the moment.
Me: No. You offering?
GS: No I’m not Bi… just curious.
Me: Okay but I’m here and I’m drinking. I am pretty sure I’ll be horny in an hour or so.
GS: So I stay till you get horny. Better still I’ll stay while the guy does his thing. You can cut and past it to me.”
Me: You know that is pretty damn kinky?
GS: Right you are in a chat room thinking about having cybersex, and think I’m kinky.
Me: Well when you say it like that it does sound ludicrous. Okay I have been closing the other windows so I’ll give you their screen names and you choose.
GS: Cool. How about I give you the ones who are hitting on me and we share one if we get offers from the same one.
Edited by Walt