Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Quantum Portrait of Dorian Grey

Nick was seeing the file for the first time. Nothing special about that he thought when the right hand doesn’t have a clue and all that. He hoped to dig out the bullets before the agent in charge showed up. Someone in procurement had discovered an irregularity in the purchasing of cameras for DHS. 1 of these companies had made $35 million replacing cameras, another $31 million. The same freaking camera 7 or 8 times. The gs11 had sent up some red flags and when her boss didn’t take it seriously she went to the Inspector General.

The location and the names had the whiff of Russian mob. Nick hated the damn Russians with their fucking stench of cheap tobacco and cabbage. Those bastards are willing to endure anything to make a buck and that meant months of slogging through shitholes and back alleys.

He hadn’t quite made it to the back of the file when SAIC Davis called him in to the office. No matter, this was not going to be a pleasant meeting anyway. Since the day that he had been lucky enough to pull duty at the Waco cluster fuck his career had been cursed. Never mind that it had gone to shit before he had even shown up. If not for the 911 disaster he might still be chasing down leads on mail fraud in Iowa.
He took the offered seat noticing that Davis did not offer to shake hands. “This is a whistle blower case” he looked up from his desk. “Some guy trying to extort some money from the companies because they have connections.” he looked at Nick across the desk. “These guys are on the preferred contractor list so check the claims and write up a report showing that there is nothing going on. I don‘t want this hippie type retiring on our dime.”

Nick was not sure how to respond but that didn’t matter. “That is all,” Davis said dismissing him. That had been 6 weeks and a trillion worlds ago.

He was teamed with one of the newer agents that had joined the bureau after the attacks. They had been driven to serve out of a need to protect the nation and had quickly been eaten by the bureaucracy. She was an IT specialist that dreamed of tracking the terrorists over the web but had been assigned to set up black boxes in internet service providers. Reading personal e-mails and spying on the political enemies of the current administration had, “soured her attitude” according to her personnel file. That was code for one of those crazy ACLU types that can’t be trusted, hence her exile.

Lynn was not as bitter or cynical as he but give her 15 or 20 years and she could be. She was quiet and that suited him just fine, also she liked to drive. He liked to think while traveling between interviews and her focused silence as she flew through the traffic pleased him no end.

They began with a re-interview of the Whistle blower. A pleasant woman in her fifties that worked in the purchasing department at homeland security. Nick stood back while the woman showed Lynn the case she had previously presented to dozens of links in the chain of command.

“There is no way that this is occurring at random.” she pointed to the 9 districts on the map. “The territories are all serviced by the same contractors and they are the only districts having this problem.” she looked at Lynn to be sure that she was still being listened to and her face lit up a bit.

Lynn had seen the same connection that the woman had but the pattern on the map showed her another possible explanation other than corruption. If one stayed in the area marked by these districts one could travel anywhere in the city without being caught on a security camera. Some of the corridors were thin, only a block wide but that was a hole big enough to drive a truck bomb through.

As they returned to the car Nick felt bad for two reasons. He liked this woman that was diligently saving the tax payers money from a crumby little office that nobody would hear. She was not going to get the whistle blower payoff and that was a shame but he was positive that wouldn’t mater to Grace in the end. Reason 2, that asswipe Davis would get his wish because Grace would not get the money.

“You saw it too?” she asked when the were both seated out of the cold.

“Yes I did”, Nick said looking around for the waitress. “Can we get two coffees here miss?”

She nodded and he leaned back into his side of the booth. “The trail looked like it was gave access to any part of the city from the port. I wonder what will happen to the price of buzz when we shut this down?” he asked pausing when the woman arrived.

She placed two cups of coffee and a fresh pitcher of cream on the table. “Anything to eat?” she asked in a flat tone.

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