By Cindy and Walt
Eddie was in the Cafe five minutes before Lucille entered. He didn’t recognize her of course, so he had to wait until she moved toward his table. He didn’t recognize her but he recognized the look of someone coming toward him, so he stood.
Eddie: Lucille I assume.
Lucille: Steady Eddie, you look just like your picture.
Eddie: I do hope you aren’t talking about the dreadful ID photo.
Lucille: No the one of you coming out of the Senate Hearings on the Swamp Dog Mercenaries.
Eddie: So that’s what this is about. I really don’t know any more than I told the Senate committee.
Lucille: I’m sure you think that is true, but we would like for you to continue that investigation. You would give us a huge leg up.
Eddie: That case was closed with a ‘cleared’ notation. There is nothing to investigate.
Lucille: A man is murdered and there is nothing to investigate?
Eddie: The man who was murdered was a drug wholesaler. Everyone figured it was the cost of doing business. Nobody is going to miss him.
Lucille: Two weeks before he died, he is alleged to have had the son of a congressman killed. Some kind of message he was sending I heard.
Eddie: I don’t know about that. All I know is a drug lord in Columbia claimed to have been responsible for the killing. It was his way of taking the heat off the drug trade, I expect. We were told it was no longer in our jurisdiction. DEA would be taking the lead.
Lucille: Don’t you just hate when that happens?
Eddie: It was just a job Lucy, not a crusade for me.
Lucille: You can call me Lucille or Ms Martin, but you can not call me Lucy.
Eddie: Okay then let me explain that I am retired. I don’t need a job and didn’t come looking for you. So Ms Martin our business is done. You don’t need to buy me lunch, since we are not doing business after all.
Lucille: Wouldn’t you like to know who actually put that hole in Carlos’ ear.
Eddie: Not especially. I was told the case was closed, so the case is closed.
Eddie wasn’t nearly as cool as he acted. No cop likes to be pulled off an active case. When he found out the Congressman’s connection, he was reminded that it was all political. He didn’t really need that reminder. The last five years had been ripe with political decisions made by others.
Lucille: Did you put a name to the image?
Eddie: I assume you read the file.
Lucille: The file might easily have been sanitized.
Eddie: If you saw the image you know as much as I do, a woman with a blonde wig, great body, and large dark glasses. The Federal database couldn’t find her. That was four years ago.
Lucille: Five years and two months since the murder.
Eddie: Nobody cares about a drug cartel operative who gets killed doing business.
Lucille: Senator Ames cares.
Eddie: Why? Is he going to run for President?
Eddie looked for a reaction. There was a small twitch in her face. He knew then that it was a political ploy. Nobody really cared. They just wanted to investigate so that they could keep the Foreign Legion thing alive till the elections. Of course it could be that the kid’s father had hired the Swamp people to off the drug dealer. That would pretty much seal his fate. At least it would ruin his career. It would also mean any chance he ever had to run against Ames was gone as well. Eddie didn’t like politics or politicians.
Lucille: So what’s it going to take to get you on board.
Eddie: You don’t have anything I want. Get yourself someone else to persecute the kid’s father. You don’t give a crap about some dope dealer. You probably don’t care about Swamp Dog. It all just makes for good theater.
Lucille changed her tactic: What is it you plan to grow on your five acre mini farm.
Lucille: Why goats?
Eddie: Why not?
Lucille: Six months, that’s the most this will take.
Eddie: Let me tell you something. You do not want me to take the job after this discussion. Because if I do and the facts don’t fit your needs, they will come out anyway. If this begins to look political, I will go to the press. I don’t work for the government anymore. For twenty five years I have played by the rules. I am going to be a decent human being and do the right thing in my final days. My non-disclosure agreement is no good anymore. So why not just go find yourself another boy.
Lucille: You have experience dealing with this thing. You have credibility and you have already testified before the Committee, so they probably won’t call you again. Not unless we get some hard evidence about the blonde with the big boobs. So are you in?
Eddie: I know I’m going to regret this. I have given all my suits and ties to the Goodwill. If I work for you, the dress is casual.
Lucille: As long as you don’t become a nudist.
Eddie had a grilled cheese and homemade potato chips. Lucille had a ham and cheese salad. Lucille paid the check as promised.
Lucille: Tomorrow 9 AM at this address.
She was standing on the sidewalk outside the New Town Cafe. She nodded then walked to her car.
Eddie: Where is that address? I don’t recognize it.
Lucille: Google it. Now don’t set a bad example by being late. You are going to meet the team and you are one of the bosses now.
Eddie: I was one of the bosses yesterday but I still had to put up with shit. Tomorrow I don’t have to put up with anything. We are clear about that, right?
Lucille: You just have to do what you do, then tell us when it is done. We don’t care how you do it.
Eddie: Then I’ll see you tomorrow.
Eddie drove his brand new South Korean Econobox through the town of Bailey Crossroads and five more miles then into the driveway of his small three bedroom frame house. He was glad to see that the roofers were still driving nails. Eddie went inside after waving up at the roofer boss.
Once inside he opened a can of diet soda from Walmart, then turned on the new Internet TV. He unlocked what used to be the linen closet in the hall to remove the strong box. From the box Eddie removed an old style cell phone, then installed a battery. He dialed the number of the House of Representatives Office building.
Eddie: You were right she is obsessed with you.
Voice on the phone: My staff heard she was going to try to recruit you for the Senate Investigation. I suppose for a change they knew what they were talking about.
Eddie: How long has she been planning this.
Voice: The investigation has been ongoing. When she was told you were going to retire, they began making plans. You are considered the expert on Swamp Dog investigations. You didn’t act eager to work for them did you?
Eddie: Of course not. This isn’t my first rodeo. It might have been a while, but I know how to work undercover. (knock on the door) I have to run. I have to pay my roofing contractor. I’ll stay in touch.
Eddie went outside to check out the roof. Just before he climbed onto the roof to inspect it, he tried to work out the story line for the intrigue in which he found himself at the moment. He gave up and just spit on the ground and muttered, “Politicians”.
After he climbed the ladder he walked all over the roof. Only then did he hand over the roofer’s check for eleven hundred more dollars.
Roofer: Call me if you have any trouble.
Eddie: Don’t worry I will.
Meanwhile in the Senate Office Building Lucille was picking up her secure office phone. It was as secure as a phone could be by that time.
Lucille: May, your boss is going to be in to see you, if he hasn’t been in yet. The first meeting is tomorrow at 9 AM at the Hole In The Wall. The equipment has been installed and we are already to go.
May: Good I’ll be there in the morning. I still don’t see why all this hung on one man. A retired Federal Cop for god’s sake.
Lucille: That Fed has information that never made it into the report. All cops keep over half the information on a case in their heads. They at least know which paths to walk down. That kind of thing doesn’t go into reports, but can save us months.
May: Alright but it has been my experience that cops and lawyers on the same team make a disastrous mix.
Lucille: Maybe, but we need him and I need you to play nice, understand? You are ambitious and he is not, so use that. So there shouldn’t be any pissing matches.
May: I’ll see you in the morning at nine.
When the connection was broken Lucille began alerting the rest of her people. She had five people in the crew, each with a different agenda. That’s why they chose her to lead the investigation. Get out in front of a potentially embarrassing story and stay ahead of the curve. Cops and lawyers didn’t understand political perception and the news cycle’s effect on it.
Lucille had her cop, her lawyer, her retired CIA operative, her forensic computer nerd and her nurse practitioner. The nurse was just in case there was medical information to be reviewed. She was also going to coordinate the movements of people and act as receptionist.
Lucille speaking into the phone: Selina, we are on for tomorrow morning at 9 AM at the Hole.
Selina: I’m not sure you need me, since I’ll just be sitting around most of the time.
Lucille: Would you rather be sitting around in the office, or sitting around at home.
Salina: Do the others know who they will be working with?
Lucille: No but they will have to know. We are going to have to be honest with each other. None of us are perfect.
Salina: So, of us all who have the worst history.
Lucille: That depends on your definition of worst. I know that is a political answer, but this is going to be a political game. If you tell that, I’ll swear I never said it.
Salina: Yeah, who would the other politicians believe? One of their own, or a Junkie Nurse.
Lucille: Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Salina: Yes let’s hope.
Lucille reviewed Salina’s file only because she knew that Salina was a bit of an idealist, always a bad sign. She had been an Army combat medic when the Army first began allowing women into combat. That’s where she first tried Morphine. She swears she never compromised the men under her care, but who knows.
According to her probation report she secretly kicked it on her own. She went through college drug free, according to her statement. College was paid for with the college benefits supplied by the Military. Where the money for her living expenses came from was not really clear. Evidently no one thought to ask. Three years before that night, she was caught with five bindles of heroin. She also had fresh track marks on her arm. She did a year in a Federal prison before being paroled.
Since her parole she had tested clean for drugs of any kind. She lived in a halfway house part of the time finally moving to a tiny apartment after taking a job with a Medical Supply Distribution Center. She drove a truck delivering medical devices to geriatric facilities. She even saved a life when one of the patients went into cardiac arrest and the new nurse panicked. Those places didn’t hire the best nurses even Lucille knew that. So she recruited the junkie nurse to be the receptionist and half ass medical authority.
Lucille spoke into the phone again: Michael, are you ready to begin work?
Michael was a chubby mid twenties pimply faced kind of kid. He was the best computer specialist Lucille could find in DC, who didn’t work for NSA. He most likely would have, if he could have passed the background check.
Michael’s problem, other than the occasional Joint, was his willingness to reprogram phones and clean computers which had once belonged to other people. He told Lucille he felt like he was saving the planet by recycling.
So what if he recycled other people’s junk without their permission. He had worked with a gang of kids who hung around high end restaurants and train stations. The information on the laptops and Iphones was sometimes worth a few bucks. How was he to know the actors in the video, of the two people fucking, were cops. Trying to blackmail them got him arrested.
Michael: Do I have a choice?
Lucille: Not if you want to stay out of jail.
Michael: Then I will be there. Just tell me when and where.
Lucille: Tomorrow 9 AM at the Hole.
Lucille: Don’t try to talk like a cop. You aren’t now, nor will you ever be a cop. (her tone was motherly)
Lucille prepared to make a call to the last member of her team. Wesley was a former CIA operative. He had been on forced retirement for five years. At thirty five he lost a leg while trying to dismantle a bomb which he had placed under a local warlord’s car.
It was a tragic accident since Langley changed their mind about the need for the bomb. The removal order came half and hour after he placed the bomb. He had to return to the car and take it off.
It was dicey but he and the bomb were in the safe house, when somebody, somewhere made a call to his daughter or some such shit which according to Wes triggered it. Nobody knew quite what happened. So in the absence of any witnesses his version stuck.
Wes had either been a drinker or started to drink after the accident. There was a review of the case, wasn’t there always, and Wes was deemed unfit for duty. He was offered an office job or a pension. He went out on his CIA pension which was good enough to drink himself to death.
Then of all things Wes got religion. A year of preaching was more than enough according to his statement. After that he was just a drunk. That is where Lucille found him and convinced him to check into a clinic, get clean and come back to work for her. Wes was her mole on the investigating team. He owed her and he believed in paying his debts.
Lucille into the phone: Nine AM at the Hole.
With that call her work was done, but the day wasn’t finished so Lucille read reports until 5 PM. She hated reading intelligence reports from field operatives. She would much rather be in the field or listening to conversations from wiretaps. Political intrigue went back to the cave men and the fight for food, she was sure.
That night Eddie watched TV with his mind on the next day more than any of the make believe heroes with their glamorous lives. He knew what it was like to be a real life cop hero and it lasted about two months. Then it was back to being bored to tears.
May went to a very upscale club to meet a mid level state department employee. The woman was middle aged, but she was also a very powerful woman. She was not as well known as others but was more powerful than most of them. Her power was also the source of her ability to meet and seduce women like May. They had a quiet drink, then left early to have kinky sex in the state department employee’s bed.
Selena would have liked to go to a club, but the ankle bracelet wasn’t her best piece of jewelry. So she sat home with a bottle of wine and the same TV shows Eddie watched.
Michael wore one of those bracelets as well. Since all of his ill gotten gains went into lawyers and fines, he lived with his semi professional bridge player mother. Now that he had a job at least he could get away from her some of the day. Maybe he could manage a place of his own some day. He went on line to join a virtual reality game, so that he could interact with other people. His avatar was an average guy nothing special just average. Michael felt that average was an upgrade to his reality.
Wes went from cheap bar to cheap bar till he found a prostitute young enough to be his daughter. He engaged in sex with her. He usually only had sex with her once a month on check day, but he was back on the government payroll, so he could afford her more often.
Lucille went home to her banker husband and two elementary school children. She had delivered them almost at her desk. She worked right up till the day before delivery in both cases. The kids were her gift to her husband. He needed the nuclear family to parade around at company picnics. So she gave it to him, then hired a really good nanny and went back to work.
They never discussed that he was bi sexual. Even though his leanings were more toward men than women. Which made it easier for him to stay away from other women. The banking community was more conservative than most businesses, so he knew being discrete about his private life was everything. It also meant he never questioned his wife. He knew she was more about her job than about sexual desire. So they had what Lucille thought was the perfect marriage.
Lucille looked at the empty king sized bed and mumbled. “What a waste.”
Of them all Eddie was the only one to accomplish anything positive that day. He at least had a new roof on his little house in the country. The others ended the day just as they had every other day.