Table of Contents
Closing Down with a Bang
On the Run
One Monday night I'm sitting in the lounge room watching a TV series on conspiracies, they're featuring the CIA tonight. I nearly kill myself laughing at it. Don't get me wrong, the CIA are an arrogant lot with a total disregard for anyone except themselves. But a bigger bunch of bunglers has never been accumulated in any one organisation, ever. I wonder how the US manages to get anything useful out of them.
That organisation has more holes in it than a sieve. During the cold war the quickest way to tell something to the KGB was to tell four CIA agents; odds were one or more was a KGB informer or agent. When the CIA started experimenting on people in the 1950s it became public knowledge within a few months, with full details except agent names. It was fifty years for the papers to be declassified, making it official for many of the details to be confirmed and known to the general public as well as being actually admitted to by the CIA and the USA government. Their attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro, talk about bungling fools. All without any approval from the White House, Congress, or Senate. Most are bureaucrats who have trouble finding their own rear end with a road map and a tracking locator. The few good agents in the CIA are out in the field collecting information, none are assassins or cold blooded killers, and they go to great lengths to stay out there away from the idiots in Langley. When some crazy fool credits the CIA with a successful conspiracy assassination it's laughable. If they blamed the FBI, DEA, or Justice Department it would be plausible, but not the CIA. It should be called the Centralised Idiots Agency.
Near the end of the show the phone rings and I answer it. It's an old friend, Max, I haven't heard from him since he vanished in 1994 and some strange people came around - they were looking for him then, and looking very hard.
Laughing, Max says, "G'day, Deadly, you're a hard man to find. It took me two days to track down your phone number. You watching that comedy about the CIA? Ridiculous, ain't it! You interested in making a few grand by turning some records into a presentable story for me?"
Smiling, I reply, "I thought you were officially dead by now. Yeah, I'm watching the CIA conspiracy rubbish. It just proves my favourite saying, 'Never under estimate the power of human stupidity.' Writing for you, OK. But I want the money up front before you vanish again. What's it about?"
Max says, "Oh, I'll let you work out what it's about when you see it. I'll send you a package with a bank cheque for five grand, a DVD with copies of various e-mails, diary entries, and some video clips. I want you to turn it into a story and get it published, somehow. I'll be happy if all you do is get it on the Internet. You'll have total editorial control as I won't be in contact again, because I probably won't be in a position to do so. Is it a deal?"
"It's a deal." I respond, "Since you won't be reading the final draft, aren't you afraid I won't just take your money and run, or write crap?"
"I know you'll write well, those tech manuals you did were good, and I've seen the training notes on your web site, and the stories you have on the Internet." He responds, "You're honest. I know if you say you'll do it, then you'll do it. It may take some time, but you'll do it."
Laughing, I reply, "Thanks for the vote of confidence. You got my current address."
Max replies, "Yep, you should see the parcel in the mail in a few days. And before you ask, I won't tell you where I am or what I'm up to. Get it from the info I send." The line goes dead when he hangs up.
Later that Week
On Thursday I receive a small parcel with a DVD, a cheque, a contract, and a letter from a solicitor asking me to read, sign, and return the contract. I read and sign the contract, then I check out the DVD. Lots of e-mails and interesting stuff, but not a thing that could be used to write a story worth paying the five thousand dollars he's sent me. I'm interested in the fact such a small and well wrapped package had been damaged in transit and needed to be taped up again. First time in the three years I've lived at this address a parcel has been damaged. More interestingly, for the life of me, I can't work out how it got accidentally damaged that much. Maybe I'm just getting paranoid in my old age.
Friday morning I take my usual weekly fifty-six kilometre drive into a town nearby to buy groceries and do business. I end up at the local McDonald's for lunch about 12:15 p.m., as usual. Gives me time to get my lunch and seated before the place becomes crowded with all the school kids from the two high schools just up the road. The seniors are allowed out for lunch and nearly all the girls end up at Maccas. Makes for some very nice scenery while eating.
About 12:25 p.m., with the place very crowded, three young ladies in the sports uniform of the Catholic school ask if they can sit at my table. Naturally, being a gentleman, I say they can and start admiring their charms. One of them, a petite brunette sitting opposite me soon gets my attention.
In a soft voice, she says, "So, Deadly, I hear you're very good at playing cards."
I give her a very close look over, I know I've never seen her before. I may be very lousy with names, but I always remember the face - I just can't put a name to it. Since she knows my old nickname, one I've not used it in the three years I've lived around here, I decide to up the ante, and say, "Only if it's at a poke her party." They all laugh.
She replies, "Do you think you can still handle three, or is two your Max now?" Out of the corner of my eye I notice the blond beside me is slipping something into my shoulder bag sitting on the seat between us.
I respond, "Oh, I think I can still handle three. But just in case, what say I start with the blond? I prefer blondes because they get so dirty easily, but are fun to get clean again. And it's easy to see what they're up to, or down to, as the case may be." They laugh again.
The brunette says, "It's a pity we can't hang around to find out."
I say, "That's OK, next time we can sing Ninety-nine Luftballoons."
Smiling, she says, "I'm glad I met you and to see we understand each other. Take care, take extreme care." They pile their rubbish on the tray and drop it in the bin when they leave. I do the same.
From there I go to my chiropractor appointment, followed by going home. Making sure to obey all the speed laws etc. If Max needs to go to these lengths to get me the info, then I'm not taking any chances. On that thought I go home via a different route. Taking me through a small village, it's only sixteen kilometres from home, to buy some milk and ice-cream, I can easily justify the detour since it gives them less time to melt in transit.
That night I rebuild an older computer and view what's on the two large USB thumb drives Max sent me, and it's then I became really paranoid.
Saturday morning I rebuild the computer again with Windows 2000. I set up a sequence of disconnecting the hard drive in the machine each time I use it to work on Max's real stuff. While working on Max's stuff I plug in a third thumb drive with a minimal Linux installation and boot from that. I keep the thumb drives in a hidden coat pocket, and they never leave my side. Each day I'd spend some time on the computer working on the stuff that's on the DVD and make like I was earning my money with it, I also spend some time working on the USB drives. The system is not connected to the Internet at any stage.
Every time I leave the house I take great care in my driving, I've numerous near misses with idiots cutting me off and the like. Each time that happens I give thanks for the advanced driver training course I did, and the even more advanced idiot driver avoidance course Dad gave me. I also worry about the car when it isn't in my sight. I even take precautions to see if the house is being visited while I'm out and about; I found out it was. Paranoid is becoming my middle name, more like my only name.
It takes several months, but I finally finish the story Max wanted from the material he sent. What follows is Max's story written from his point of view, and I've done my best to imitate his style of telling a story. Some of the story's aspects are very frightening, and others are very heartening. It does show some people still do stand up and die for supposedly outmoded ideas like freedom, personal liberty, and what's right; God bless them.
One night I'm on one of the technology forums I regularly visit when Laser Head (yeah that's his nickname) comes on line about having finally done it. Done what, we all ask. He's doing a masters in physics and selected laser technology for his thesis - pinpoint accuracy and the use of lasers for medical treatments at the micro level. We're about as interested in that as in watching the Gay Mardi Gras - zip, zilch, nada. We're all very heterosexual computer nerds, so I gather you get my meaning here.
.... There is more of this story ...