By Cindy and Walt
When I awoke on Monday, I felt better than I had in weeks. I was calm and relaxed. Tommy and Willie did more than all the chatroom nights had ever done for me. I just didn’t have any pressure on me to perform for anyone, not even Control. Unfortunately the feeling didn’t last near long enough.
I was up at seven rather than my usual 5 AM which was the biggest real change in my day. I still rode the bike out to breakfast. I just had a lot more traffic to deal with than usual, otherwise nothing changed. I still had the same breakfast, at the same restaurant. There were of course more men in suits inside the place. I probably should buy myself one of those little spandex riding outfits, I thought.
I ate at one of the concrete tables outside the restaurant. I would have preferred to sit at a table inside and have someone bring my breakfast, but I didn’t feel like shopping for a different place just for bacon and eggs on a real plate. I mean the restaurant where I ate every morning was fine. I guess I was becoming a creature of habit.
“I should have gone to the waffle joint near the Office Plaza,” I said aloud as I pedaled the bike from the parking lot. Once I was back at the apartment I set the computer up for my daily contact with Control. I had the day off so I couldn’t really do anything other than see if Jeremy had been cleared of any criminal activity. I could at least get an update, if there was one. If not, I would try to find something reasonably fun to do.
The update was that there was nothing new to report. After I reported the same thing to Control, I signed off. From the email that never got sent I went to the college website and worked on my drawing lessons. To be honest I got lost in the drawing. I know producing artists go through binge periods at times. I guessed that I was in one myself at that time.
At the end of the day I had caught up with my online lessons. I was at a point where I should send a half dozen drawing in for a critique. I went to an office depot and had them faxed to the school’s computer.
When I returned to the apartment, I packed the drawings, then I went back out to mail them to myself in Farmer’s Grove. After I returned to the apartment I checked everything to be sure there was nothing left to connect Janet Anton to the drawings of Rose Seabold. It was basic spy craft 101.
Liam finally came back after I was all finished. “So you still mad at me?” I asked.
“I am never mad. I can’t really have emotions these days. I do however chose not to watch you have sex with strangers,” Liam said.
“So it would be okay if they weren’t strangers?” I asked.
“Rose you know what I mean. There is no way you can justify this as part of the job,” Liam said.
“You are right. Damn it I’m allowed some life of my own,” I said.
“Be sure it doesn’t end with you back in prison doing the remainder of your sentence,” he suggested.
“I will do what I can, but surely Morris won’t put me back for scratching an itch?” I asked.
“That woman is capable of anything,” Liam said putting an end to the conversation by just vanishing.
“Bastard,” I said to no one at all.
I made myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich then grilled it just like a cheese sandwich. I had read about it, so I had the chance and fixed it. It was pretty good, but I wouldn’t be doing it again. It made a terrible mess.
I watched a little more TV on the web, then went to bed by 10 PM. I finally caught up on my sleep. So when I awoke on Tuesday, I was back in the game feeling better than I had in a while over all.
The bike ride into the morning air was really refreshing. I stopped for breakfast and still made it back in time for a long shower before I left for work.
I arrived in the parking lot ten minutes early. I fished my ID card out of the purse I had decided to carry for this job. The purse had a compartment in the handle where the clone drive could be and was stored. I wasn’t sure that I could clone Michael Gold’s computer with it, but it was the best option. It would leave no clue. If the computer would not load from the clone tool, I would have to start the Windows program which would leave a trail. No matter how hard I tried I could not get rid of it completely. Only by running the clone tool from the boot log would there be no tracks to cover. If I had to go with the second option, I had to pray Michael didn’t have access to CIA software.
The problem for that morning was to get the purse with the drive past the guard and into the locker. Even there I had to get it into a safe place. That thing was poison with a capitol P. If the good guys ran across that program, we would have some heavy duty explaining to do. If the bad guys got it, I was going to be asked some painful questions for sure. Worst of all I didn’t have any satisfactory answers, so the pain would never end. That part they didn’t bother to go over at Church Camp, but I already knew about it. The reason they didn’t cover it was there was no good options if I got caught. I was likely to die after having spilled my guts then convinced the bad guy it was all I knew.
I was as nervous as any woman could be, unless she was in the prison shower with a bunch of convicts with broom handles. I walked through the plaza’s front door and showed Trish my new ID card.
“Hey girl look at you part of the team now,” she said. “I didn’t think you would come back to be honest.”
“Oh why not?” I asked.
“With that body, I figured you would get a better offer by now,” she said.
“Never was much of a pole dancer. I got no rhythm,” I answered.
“That wouldn’t matter. No one expects talent in those places,” she said. It almost reminded me of Tommy.
“Possibly true but they keep the inside of strip clubs way to cold for a girl to be running around in half a bikini. Afraid I would be in the hospital too many times and they have no health insurance.
Trish laughed. “At least you could qualify for a job there. I’m one of those who would get told to put it all back on.”
“Are you kidding men don’t care what a woman in those places looks like. It’s just how good you can make them think you screw,” I said. “You know all men dream better than they screw.”
“Now ain’t that just the truth. Give me your bag. You surely remember we have to look inside anything that could hold a bomb,” Trish said.
“What the hell do they do in here design rockets?” I asked.
“How the hell would I know. I just search handbags and briefcases,” she said.
“Well I guess since you put it that way, I don’t really care either. I did look at that list of contraband. Drugs, Drug paraphernalia, like either of us would recognize a drug kit,” I said.
“Well I detained a guy who had a couple of hypodermic needles,” Trish said.
“Let me guess,” I interrupted. He was a diabetic.
“Yep, I thought I was going to lose my job. The head office told me that I did the right thing, but to remember his name and face. It might not be a good idea to make the same mistake twice. His name is Justin Stark in case I’m not here when he comes in,” she informed me.
By the time we finished our conversation she cleared my handbag. I went to my locker removed the small wallet from the handbag and stuffed it into one of the pockets of the uniform pants. I left the purse in the locker. It was my intention to leave it that night and every night until I needed to remove the flash drive from the tricky handle. It was as good a way to hide the drive as any. It they did a random locker search, they would just find a forgotten woman’s purse in a woman’s locker. There would be nothing suspicious there. Well it would be a lot less suspicious than a flash drive would have been.
I began the day by having a little talk with the head of Human Resources. She wanted to know what I thought of the people I had met. I didn’t have a bad thing to say about any of them. I figured if she asked me about security, I would have a comment or two but the people was her problem. I listened to her bullshit and answered with words from the manual. She seemed impressed most people probably waited till they needed an answer to read the silly thing.
After forty five minutes she sent me to Earl. He put me on the CCTV desk. That desk checked employees into the building and also checked the CCTV system as well as the electronic alarm systems. It was impossible to monitor them all, all the time so they recorded everything. The HR lady could go back a month and look at everything. That’s how long after the computer theft I needed to hang around to clean my record.
Today I was working with Maddy. “See that blond?” Maddy asked. “She thinks no one knows she goes out on the roof to smoke. We have it all on tape. She goes out there twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. Regular as clockworks.” Maddy laughed.
“So you are telling me you know everyone’s secrets?” I asked.
“Not everyone, and not all of anyone’s secrets, but a little of most everyone’s secrets,” she said with a laugh. “There is a real squirrely looking guy and a chubby brunette who meet in the men’s room for about ten minutes every couple of days at 3 PM.”
“Are they married,” I asked.
“Married, but not to each other,” she sang with a laugh. “See some of everyone’s secrets. I’ll know yours before long.”
“I don’t have enough of that kind of secrets to make it worth looking at,” I said. Maddy was about as old as Trish. I had no idea what her background was, since she seemed to be a very private person. I didn’t want to be friends with any of the people who worked for the Office Plaza, so it suited me just fine if she didn’t want to talk.
At the exact time the regular shift ended at 3:15 PM, I saw two young black males force a gate lock. I saw them before the alarm sounded. Maddy was gone but I was on training schedule so I wouldn’t be going for another hour. Her replacement was a fat old bald man. He hadn’t sat down at the time the alarm sounded.
“There,” I said pointing to the monitor, “It’s two young black males, wearing hooded sweat shirts and jeans. They are on foot, if you get the cops here they can probably get them easy enough.”
“What is the procedure?” The fat guy asked.
“Call human resources and let them report it,” I said.
“Right.” With that he made the call while I worked the camera controls to film them breaking into a sedan. They rifled the glove box and then they popped the trunk and took a tool box and a couple of small bags. Could be drugs, I thought. I knew better than to comment. The reason I knew better was that something just wasn’t right. I would have known it, even if Control wasn’t interested in the goings on of Michael Gold.
We hemmed and hawed around for twenty minutes in which time they broke into three more cars before the cops showed up. The head of Human Resources and Captain Earl met them at the gate and let them into the parking lot. The chase I expected commenced and lasted five minutes. Twenty more minutes and it was time for me to leave. I left with the cops and the people from the Office Plaza talking with the boys. I had no idea what would happen nor did I care. They just didn’t act right, but I wasn’t exactly anyone’s idea of a role model. Frankly I had been rooting for the thieves.
When I got home, I checked to see if there was any new mail. When I found there wasn’t, I just watched a few TV shows from the pay TV channels. It was easy when you visit the pirate websites. After I watched a couple of the HBO and Showtime series, I cooked dinner. Then I ran through the news sites. When I finished it was 11 PM, so I went to bed alone.
The days just drifted into each other. I had the idea that I would know Captain Earl’s job better than he did before the assignment was over. I had found Michael Gold’s office without asking anyone about it. I got into the directory on the third weekend I worked for the plaza.
I would never have found it, if I hadn’t send the Geek word that no Michael Gold’s name was on any lease. I needed to know what his operating company’s name was. It went out to the geek in an email draft through the black accounts. Word came back a couple of days later that he was operating as South Of The Border Time Shares. According to the website he was designing timeshares. He was not involved in the building just the design. That didn’t ring true somehow, but my job was not to assess the information’s value it was to clone his computer and get out without anyone knowing that it had happened.
I was almost ready for an attempt when Maddy mentioned something. “The complex has an electronic lock recording system. Let me show you how to check that,” she said casually.
She opened the Windows Operating System. That system killed any plan I had to wander into the office. So much for a simple clone while I was alone on a midnight shift. Since the security went that far I wanted to know if there was a video camera or a motion alarm in the office.
When I got home after that shift, I sent in a revised plan. It was a nasty plan and it was pretty damn risky, but it was the only plan that would work. I sent it to Morris but I knew she couldn’t pull it off or even authorize it. Mission would have to give us an okay. I was pretty sure their need to know would outweigh the danger in the plan, but that part of the operation wasn’t my call.
There were some things the geek had to hack into the plaza computers to find out. Unlike Michael Gold’s computer the plaza information would be in some files online somewhere. It took the geek a week to find the files and then scour them for the information I needed.
As soon as I got assigned to the walking post on a midnight shift I sent the plan’s details to Morris. She forwarded them to god only knew who else. Word came back quickly since the shift was only for a week. It was a go.
While they struggled with the approval, I noted the exact times I was outside Michael Gold’s door. I was on his floor for 3 minutes at 1:15 AM and 3:35 AM, or I could arrange to be there each night at those times.
When I went to work the next day things went well. Since I had been seen around the building enough, my coworkers didn’t bother to search me for lock picks the night of the planned computer heist.
It was a Wednesday night at 1:15 AM, when a stolen car crashed into a power substation or some such shit. Odds were about a million to one that such an accident would cause a black out, but that time it did. I expected that it was aided by a well placed sniper round in some relay or transformer.
Since the Office Plaza’s power grid had an automated restore and rerouting program the juice was off for only 12 minutes before the emergency backup generators came on, just enough to be an inconvenience to everyone else. To me it was the cover I needed. But it would be an hour or more before they could reset the alarms.
Oh yeah it was enough time for me to pick the lock and plug the flash drive in Michael Gold’s computer. I stood very quietly in the dark talking to the desk as if I was trapped in the elevator and scared to death.
When the power came back I had the computer on and I left the room quickly before the alarms reset. For the next two hours I walked my route until at 3:45. At that time there was a blip in the whole fourth floor fire alarm system. Some geek somewhere had hacked the system but the security officer never knew it.
I told the front desk that I would check each of the offices to be sure that it was a false alarm. It was during those checks that I recovered the drive and shut down Michael’s computer.
When the firemen arrived a few minutes after Gold computer information was stolen, they told me to leave that they would continue the checks.
I was nervous the rest of that night, and the next morning, while I gave Human Resources a different version of the night. “I spent the first ten minutes trapped in an elevator during the blackout. When the lights came back I did the rest of my tour. During the tour I found out from the front desk that the power had been out in our part of town for almost an hour. I was trapped in the elevator before the emergency programs kicked the generators on,” I said.
“Okay where were you when the fire alarm was triggered?” the head of HR asked.
“I was on the third floor making my walking round. I was a little later than usual because of the back out. I was half way down the north hall of the third floor, when the desk operator advised me he had a flashing alarm for the fire system. Since all the alarms had been down, and I was almost on top of it, I made the decision to check the fourth floor. I was about half way into checking when the fire department arrived. They ordered me out of the building. I had hoped to cancel the call, but I didn’t feel comfortable even though I didn’t see or smell anything.” It was a perfectly logical explanation for all the shit that went on the night before.
I didn’t tell them my first stop checking for fires was to recover my flash drive. The rest of the time I walked up and down the halls and looked through the windows and sniffed at the doors. I open several of the doors with the master key including Michael Gold’s door that time.
To sum it up there was no record of the first entry, since the generator didn’t reset the alarms until it was sure there was enough power to other parts of the building. I had enough time to get the drive into the machine, but not enough time to see it copy. The false fire alarm was for the whole fourth floor, just so I had a reason to open the door using the master key without being too suspicious. I was pretty sure the plaza would advise the fourth floor there was a remote chance that their office was breached. Even though I had a logical reason the HR office wanted to get ahead of anything that might go wrong.
When that shift ended I removed the drive from my locker along with the purse. Going out the door with the flash drive was a bit of a strain on my nerves, but it went flawlessly. I went home then quickly changed into my biking outfit. I rode the bike to breakfast as I always did, and to the same restaurant where I always ate.
The big difference was a very well built younger man sat down at the concrete table where I ate. I left first, and without speaking to him. When I left, I switched his paper coffee cup for my own. Then I carried his to the trash receptacle.
After I had been gone a few minutes, he left the restaurant with my coffee cup, which contained no coffee but did contain a sealed plastic sandwich bag and the drive. So the Controller got her drive and I got away with it all.
For the next four weeks I settled into my job as a rent a cop. I began to be asked questions by the other guards for some reason. Things like, “Should I check out this guy?” whenever an abnormality happened. The manuals never cover every possible situation. I found myself being the ‘go to girl’, if I was working. I really didn’t mind it was just common sense, but someone had to make the decision. I would rather make it than call Earl, I decided.
The first hint I received that the information made a difference was when the border patrol found a tunnel under the border completely by accident. The drug dogs found it according to the TV news. The border patrol and the Mexican Federal Police followed the tunnel to its Mexican destination. It led to the office of a new time share resort close to the border.
So I assumed I was going to be left in place until at least some of the raids took place. I guess the idea was that since none of my information was used in the arrests, I wasn’t compromised. I sure hoped they were right. I wouldn’t do well under torture. The bad guys would never believe that I knew nothing.
I went back to the dance club but Tommy and Willie were never there nor did they show up while I was there. I could have started all over with new men, but it seemed like too much trouble. Especially since I knew my days in Capitol City were numbered. Even worse the number was small, and getting smaller all the time.
The word came after a month that Janet Anton had been offered a job in Miami. I was called into the office of the Human Resources director. “You are getting to be a regular here,” she said.
“What did I do now?” I asked with a smile since she didn’t seem upset.
“You went and got yourself hired at Miami International Airport it seems. Their chief of security called to asked how you had done here. I told him during your short stay with us, you had done an exceptional job. I had to be honest with him. I also told him I was going to try to make you an offer to change your mind about leaving.”
“Oh really and what offer could you make to convince me not to go to Miami, where the nightlife is the best in the world?” I asked.
“Since you put it that way, I don’t suppose Captain Earl’s job would appeal to you?” she asked.
“Too little too late comes to mind. I had planned to work a two week notice would that be satisfactory?” I asked.
“Well, if I can’t convince you to stay that would be customary and acceptable,” she said. As I stood to leave her office she added, “I want to wish you well. You are an amazing person. We will miss you.”
I nodded. The reason I was considered amazing was that I acted without supervision most of the time. It was in keeping with selling the idea that my attempt to clear the fire alarm mess was typical of me, and not suspicious in and of itself. Of course if they were suspicious of me, all roads led to a visit by the SBI.