It was a pretty nice day in the D.C. area. Actually the river and park was in Alexandria VA but only 8 minutes from his office. After a bad morning, the run should relax him some. God knows he needed to relax. It had been a grueling few months. He was 24 and already wanted to retire. The last contract he had was like all the worst things people had warned him about came true.
Everyone wanted him to posture his conclusions on what would make their work and money better; not what was best for the client. In this case there were three of them; each bringing something to the table. The 'their' in this case were the people who had hired him; not the actual clients. They had agreed to a form of arbitration; not having any single person or group to advise them without sounding like they were 'singing the party line'.
Yep, you guessed it, they were all from different firms, countries even and did not speak English.(Or so it seemed)
It was a straight forward project, with two follow up's if the first went well. Mexico, Brazil and Argentina all needed toll roads built. The Germans, French and Japanese had been asked to sub to the American firm. They had hired me, I did speak those languages, and had been to those countries, came with a good reputation and clearances from my previous 'employer'.
The real world was not something I cared for. At the first 'private' dinner with the 'bosses' I became wary. When several phases and meanings came up in the table talks the American firm's rep told me how to respond and just tell them what they wanted to hear. It marked a decision that was very easy to make.
Very calmly and quietly, I told the three negotiators that this was not going to work out; that I was too young and it would be better if each of them had their own people to carefully review any agreements. Better for them to get people they could trust. James told the American rep that he was unable to do the job and 'politely' suggested they get someone more suited to 'taking orders'. He turned to leave.
"I think we already have someone. We have some other work that we would like your thoughts on. We will not be considering your 'projects' Mr. Rollins. Mr. James Dodder, would you be so kind as to join us for dinner?" He said this in English.
They all had serious misgiving about Mr. Rollins and his firm. When they heard for themselves the 'tell them what they want to hear' part, many things were confirmed and their future together looked bleak. They also were quite pleased on how I had refused to lie to them.
The dinner was to be that evening and I, of course accepted. This did not make Mr. Rollins happy and he 'threatened' that the 'Wrath of God' would descend on them and me. It was a $4-5 Billion deal.
The old saying 'Win Some and Lose Some' came to mind. My family, or I should say, those still speaking to me were down to my sister and an old Great Aunt. My Grandfather, when he passed had left me the bulk of his estate. All the toys he had accumulated were there too. My mother and father were going to fight it until my Great Aunt told them right out that not only would her lawyers fight for her brother's will in court, but that she would also be leaving my sister and me the bulk of her holdings. These were even larger than my Grandfather's. Mom and Dad split then, in a divorce, sulking but now happy with the $7,500 a month they each would be receiving.
My run was fated to be a short one, alas, I would miss our dinner appointment too.
I was just jogging one way when a small but beautiful girl ran by going the other way. I no longer had a girlfriend, she left to be with some Accountant or CPA. I never had told her what my Grandfather had left me, always meeting at her place, a restaurant or my D.C. apartment.(Which I had before the inheritance and was still under lease.)
I digress. Something I saw made me look back. I saw her shapely legs and ass right away. She also turned and looked back. I was by no means in her league but our eyes met. The Chinese have a saying, 'May you live in Interesting Times!' Another thought came to mind. This girl was pretty cute but young. Somehow the thought of 'Love At First Sight' crossed my mind, but thought better of it. I turned my head to continue my run.
There was a 'Thud', then the sounds of a body falling and hitting the asphalt. I turned back and saw her sprawled in front of a tree. As I ran up to her I hit my Emergency Speed Dial on the phone. Not thinking that I no longer worked for the Agency and gave my ID, Password and security code. "A little out of date James. What do you need?" came the voice.
I was embarrassed. "I need help! Not for me, some girl hit a tree while running here in Alexandria. I'm checking her now but she is out cold. I'm sorry to have called you! Could you give me the number of a Hospital or should I just call '911'.
"Help is on the way. You know you never leave us, just get to rest up a while. Who knows, you may be needed in the future. You can call us anytime, we'll be calling you, count on it."
The sound of cars, Black SUVs was very distinct and visible. Several men got out and came to me and the girl. These guys had been through this before.
"No ID on her!"
Meanwhile, one man on the ground was lancing her throat while another was on his cell. "Transport." he said.
The two men with me, walked me to one of the SUVs. "You need to come with us!" The man attending the collapsed girl said, she couldn't breath, a ride is coming and we'll take her in. She will be listed under your name at GWU Hospital. Our section, so call first. I heard the rotors of a Med Evac as the doors on the SUV were closed. It was a quiet trip. No a word was spoken. We got to a compound, went through security and I had to be escorted into the building. I saw a friendly face. "Hello Jim, did you miss the food or the coffee here? I know it was not the pay!."
"Hello yourself Bob! De-brief Huh!"
"You know the routine buddy. We don't know if she was a 'Honey Trap', going to kill you or if is just an accident. If she can't give us a name or number, we will start a facial recognition. In-fact, normal routine, it's already in the works."
I was there about three hours. I made a phone call to Mr. Bauer canceling our dinner. I tried to explained to him, in German, what had happened. Then I remembered something and spoke in English.
Not problem! It is refreshing to find one who values life over business. We will call you soon to re-schedule."
Bob came up to me and said. "Thanks! Now we need a translation, you want a part-time jig?"
Everything needed to be checked.
"Bob, can I go find out about the 'accident' victim? Would you call ahead and clear me? Can I get a ride back to my car or do I need a taxi?"
"Well, since you now 'part-time' with us, I guess we can let you use a car." He smiled. I guess I had another 'part-time job again!
It seems that everything was either armoured or was a black SUV. Bob met me as I was leaving. "Here, give me your old card and memorize those new codes. We'll use the same bank for your 'expenses'."
I knew the trackers were still working, how else could they have go to me so quickly. Ahh, technology at work.
Finding parking was easy, Company car so company parking slot. He He! I wondered about the girl.
As I went through a dozen checkpoints, the thought of what Fort Knox would be like if the same kind of security was in use. This was pitiful. I guess it was meant to be easy in but hard to get out.
On the 13th floor I was met by two men and a nurse. "Bob called ahead and said you were back with us."
"Hi Paul, Yep the coffee was really great, missed it. How is our girl?"
"No word yet! Looks young and American, but she could be Nordic, Russian, Czech or Polish!"
"I'll wait, can I see her?"
"Not alone, but Ill tell Zach your coming, their in room 1323. You might have a 'keeper' this time?"
Paul knew what I went through with my 'old' GF. The company had her 'Vetted' when there were some questions about her college years.
Zack opened the room door for me as I walked in. "Little bit overkill No Zack?"
He shrugged. "SOP. We know shit about her. When we get an ID either from her or the scans we'll know more. Is she 'private stock' and 'spoken' for old buddy or public goods?"
I had to think about my answer to his question. Saved by the sound of the sheets rustling. Our girl was starting to wake up.
"Ouch, Ouch, Ouch!" She tried to reach for the tube. It was a normal reaction and a good sign.
I tried to comfort her with my finest 'caveman' greeting. " Me Ugg, you Jane; maybe club too big?"
That did not get me even a smile. Zack piped in. "You were brought here after you hit a tree and fell down!"
"Did you bring me here?"
"No Ma'am, He found you and called it in!" He frowned as he pointed to me.
"Where am I and why do I hurt so much?"
"The Med Team had to put a tube down your throat, when you were brought here, they cleared your airways, put on oxygen and took care of some cuts and scrapes. Your one arm is broken according to this chart. The doc says you swallowed your tongue so what the Med Team did probably saved your life." She nodded, then went back to sleep.
"Zack looked at me. "Next time 'slick' try getting a name, phone or address."
I was beginning not to like Zack any more. Neither of us even knew her name and the fights had already started.
She was still out of it but the LEOs had an APB already out on someone who fit her general description. It had only been a few hours but the 'missing person' seemed to describe her. Blond, blue-gray eyes, mole on left cheek, 17 and answers to the name Kat, or Katya. American father, Bill Dvorak and Czech mother, Sonja. An Embassy row address and phone number meant this was not going to be SOP.
I took out my cell, looked at Zack who just shrugged, gave me a Mr. Spock eyebrow and held up his hands in surrender. "Your girl, your call!" He said.
I called into a 'normal' number and asked to check the APB out if it was the missing girl. In less time than it takes for a F-15 to fly from D.C. To Pax River, my phone was ringing. We had some 'special' arrangement to let us keep our cell phone active in the Hospital. Just not in the OR. Oxygen in the rooms were cut and not as volatile as in the OR. The parents were on their way. Due to the new 'HIPPA' rules, not much could be told them until we had positive ID. Then if she was 18 or over, Nada, even to them. They would meet me in the lobby and I would need to escort them to the Room. "How would I know them?" I asked.
"Oh, don't worry, you'll know who they are by the six armed guards with them."
I was informed no guards, just 1 parent to make an ID first.
I was expecting the worst. I was not to be disappointed. True to the warning armed guards tried to get inside and to the room. There were not six of them, there were eight.
The woman it seems was Chechen, not Czech. She had left everything behind to flee with her daughter. Her husband had been killed and when she fled; and it was only luck that she met Sam, her new husband to be. She was paranoid, with a capital P and a B(Bitch). She started yelling, screaming, shouting as loud as she could, as though her daughter might hear her.
Thank God when my guys pulled machine pistols out, the crying stopped and their guards went out very quietly.
"Now, may I please see some ID then I will escort you to see if we have your missing person. I will only take one up. Tell me a little of where she was and what she was supposed to be doing."
Well this did not go over very well. The mother did not know I spoke Russian and I learned several new words to say, if I ever got real upset. I let her vent, then asked her, in Russian. if that meant I should take her husband up?"
He laughed. Told her, in Russian. that he had a good feeling that everything would be fine. To just calm down. "Serge" he said as he extended his hand, I go by Sam here though."
"James" I said, taking his hand. I asked for some water for the mother and that she be taken to a conference room with two of her guards. She had calmed down. I said again, in Russian, that everything would be fine. No one was dead or being kidnapped.
Sam and I went to 1323, he had relayed a story of how Kat was running in the park while he and her mother were being de-briefed and getting US Security Clearances from the DIA. They were moving to D.C. and this was their first day here.
Everything sort of fit better now. We went into the room, got inspected again; then entered the area Zack was in, Kat still asleep.
"She woke up for a little while before, then I think, the Meds they gave her put her down. She will be fine Serge"
Tears were coming down his cheeks now. "Yes, this is our Katya! Can Sonja come up now? She has been frantic!"
It was a different person that was brought up. When she saw her daughter, and Serge explained what had happened and how she had been awake, there were a few more Russian phrases, not swearing, but more like religious prayers.
Serge asked about the bills, saying the Embassy should cover it or he would. Sonja asked a more simple yet direct question Who was I? and How had I come to find her daughter?
I started to answer those questions the best way I could. How could I tell them everyone was now being investigated, photos, video and a search of 17,000 databases would soon confirm or deny this story.
It all became mute. Kat opened her eyes and was waking up.
She looked at her mother who ran to her. Zack restrained her. She cringed when Serge spoke to her, and I knew this was not a happy, loving, family scene.