Monday, April 26, 2010

Old Wine Tales

Treasa and I have started a new blog. Read about our love of wine (and food) at Old Wine Tales.
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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Closing Credits

There’s been a good reason for my absence here – meaning my physical self isn’t in some state of decomposition. Treasa and I have been moving along very nicely. Given my line of work, it’s inevitable that she’d get caught up in it at some point. Because I know I couldn't come to terms with those consequences, I’ve decided to get out of the game from hence forward. I’ve gone straight. Yes, this means transitioning to the corporate life. I’ve taken a much better paying job at another bank. Nine to five. Cubicles. And managing vacation days.

But it doesn’t, at least shouldn’t, entail rapidly approaching bullets, explosions, and deceit. For this; I’m better off. I’m cognizant that I cannot fully escape my past. There’s a risk that something will bubble up, but I’ll do my best to avoid the splatter. I’ll always be prepared, and I’ll always get results.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

No Spring Break In Tijuana After All

Good news all the way around regarding Marcel and the litany of ‘What could have happeneds.’ He got an emergency call from his boss, got on the red eye, arrived on the East Coast at 5:00 EST, went straight to the office and has been living the corporate grind, unshowered, ever since.

I did manage to carve out a few minutes of his time for our chat. I’ll be expecting word on whether he’s found me suitable opportunity sometime next week.

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Call Waiting

If there’s one thing that gets my head, and heart, racing, it’s when someone misses a meeting. Mother always taught me, if you’re not fifteen minutes early, you’re late.

Generally, for face to face meetings, I’ll arrive at the specified location much earlier than that to check for surveillance and to make sure my escape routes are mapped out. For internet meet-ups or phone calls, other than making sure you’re on a secure line, there’s nothing much more to do than sit and wait for your contact to arrive.

Now that my Bulgarian Operation has, for the most part, been wrapped up, I’m looking for another target on which to focus my skill set. I’ve done a good job of establishing my corporate cover. I’ve gained trust, built relationships and delivered results consistent, exceptional results to all of my corporate business partners. Because of this success, I may have the ability to gather more intelligence in other parts of the bank.

With this perspective, I was awaiting a phone call last night from one of Mother’s people who may have a way to interject me into their operation. We had met in person previously, but with Marcel currently residing on the Left Coast, we struggled through time zone differences to set up a contact time: 21:00 EST.

By 21:09 a myriad of what-ifs were running through my mind. What if he couldn’t get away from his corporate responsibilities? What if he couldn’t find a secure line? What if, unlikely as it may be, he forgot? What if he was tied to a metal chair in the basement of a Tijuana flat, bleeding, hoping the power goes out so the electrodes will stop while his captors repeatedly ask who he was meeting and what it was about?

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thirty Minutes Or It's Free

Remember maintenance guy ploy? Well, it works for deliveries as well.

Upon returning home from work, I received a message instructing me to make a delivery to a local contact. My parcels weren’t all too exciting. I had two thumb drives containing dossiers on people of interest. But, I still had to figure out a way to bring the information without attracting the slightest amount of suspicion.

I made a sandwich, wrapped it in waxed paper, like what you’d get in deli, and put one of my Coke Zero’s in a paper bag. I put on some ratty jeans, an old t-shirt and a baseball cap. Got in my truck, opened the windows, which was finally possible as it was finally above sixty degrees today in Delaware, and blasted some ungodly rock-pop music from the first painful radio station I found via the scan button.

To anyone who may have casually watched me deliver the paper bag, I would have looked just like they would have expected a delivery person to. If someone actually stopped me, they would have needed to look inside the sandwich to find my data, as I had covered the thumb drives in plastic wrap, hollowed out a small notch on the inside of the roll and covered the drives back up with the bread, which was then further concealed with the makings of a fine sandwich.

Then, without a sandwich to eat for dinner, I settled on boiling some cappellini with some left over meat sauce.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Staying Dry

It’s been raining in Delaware for about three or four days. As such, this has been pretty much been a good parallel to what my operative life has been like lately. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however, as it means that no one has tried to kill me lately.

The life of an operative isn’t as glamorous as Sean Connery led us to believe in James Bond. Rarely, unfortunately, do I spend my time walking the bikini clad boardwalks of Miami, as Michael does in Burn Notice. Down time, in my perspective, is a blessing. My line of work entails persevering through a series of calculated risks. The more down time you have, the fewer chances you take on rolling the dice. This means that I’m essentially procrastinating until it lands on black, when I’ve put my free breathing future on red.

Begrudgingly, I’ve been surviving the daily commute. The grind, as it is, seemingly just as much relates to the coffee dust that gets me through my day as it does to the worker bee lifestyle I’m currently entertaining. I biggest fear is that the lack of action will lull me into a state of complacency. This, of course, can have dire consequences. Coming in at a close second, though, is the apprehension surrounding the potential that I may grow accustomed to this molasses lifestyle and become hesitant to reengage when Mother’s call comes.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Longer Short Cut

Treasa and I went to the Philadelphia Boat Show yesterday. Unlike the Baltimore Boat Show, I wasn’t there on behalf of Mother, or any other official business. Instead, we just went up to look at what we’d spend money on if we had a spare hundred grand, which we don’t.

On the way there, though, we encountered multiple sirens from police, fire response personnel and emergency medics. The short cut I wanted to take to the highway was blocked off. Nothing incriminating was in my truck, so I wasn’t concerned if we got stopped, but because we were forced to take an alternate route, I was glad I knew the area well enough not to get lost.

The road we took wasn’t something I was familiar with because I knew the area, but rather a series of side streets I learned because they were an additional way for me to get to work when I need to get to the downtown office. Every so often, I’d take the extra ten minutes to wind my way through these neighborhoods to see if I could recognize a car that I sometimes saw on my typical commute. The chances that someone was taking the same route on the same day as me would be slim. It’s a good way to see if you’ve picked up a tail.

Yesterday, however, I was less concerned with that. Instead, it showed how preparation for one thing can pay off greatly for another.

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Saturday, March 6, 2010

TGI Lunchtime On Friday

Friday was a pretty typical day at the office. A meeting here, some work there, and most importantly, a lunch break. I met Heather Erinovic a contact for lunch at a place downtown. We were in on a previous operation a while back and haven’t seen each other since. Each of us ordered the grilled ahi tuna caesar salad. Nothing to report really.

However, on the way to the restaurant, a panhandler asked me what time it was. “Quarter to twelve,” I responded. Then he asked me if I could spare a dollar. I wonder how successful he is with opening up communication with misdirection.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Instead Of A Good Dinner

There are times when your job calls you to take something that you otherwise wouldn’t dream of possessing. Lot’s of times you will be asked to be the middleman, the information/material conduit from one person to the next, because you can be trusted. Today was one of those times where it was made clear to me that ignoring this request wasn’t an option.

After work I meandered through rush hour traffic to avoid catching a tail and picked up some goods that I’ll need to drop off later tonight. Without knowing exactly what was in the sack, I was pretty sure that possessing them puts my health and wellbeing in jeopardy. Of course, with it being a second trip out late at night, the drop is going to stink, but it has to be done.

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Monday, March 1, 2010


There are certain times where it just makes sense to pay a professional to do a job right. For a great variety of things, I’m the man you call to get results. But intrinsic in my skill set is an understanding of my own limitations. For instance, I’ll solicit the services of an accountant, a lawyer and a plumber, and yesterday, you can add a top notch photographer to the list.

Mother sent Timothy down to meet me. Whereas I can avoid detection, trail a mark, and gain access to areas without leaving a trace, taking pictures good enough for facial recognition software isn’t something I have on my resume.

Timothy and I met downtown and trailed our targets as they ran Sunday morning errands. While they made a trip to the ATM, a hair cut for him, nails for her and lunch at a burger place, Timothy was click-click-clicking away with his multi thousand dollar camera. I kept my truck from drawing attention.

He seemed to be pleased with the lighting and how the depth of the backgrounds complimented the subject matter, or something. His mood turned sour when we followed them back to their home, a working horse farm. At the thought of walking his white suede, leather soled dress shoes through the woods and a field or two to gather intelligence, he threw his hands up and exclaimed something to the effect of, ‘Oh, they’re last season’s style anyway.’

The layout of the property was all in the dossier. The fact that he knew that the couple lived on a horse farm and that we’d follow them there, and that he still chose to wear those shoes made me reason that his pictures must be really good to outweigh his complete absentmindedness.

A bluff of trees, two fields, and two now brown suede, leather soled shoes later, we had the pictures we needed. I brought Timothy back to his car and went home to cook dinner:

Sear seasoned chicken thighs in enameled cast iron dutch oven in butter and oil.
Set remove chicken, set aside and sauté chopped onion and garlic in oil.
Dump last sip of beer into dutch oven to deglaze stuck-on chicken goodness.
Add parsley, thyme, crushed red pepper, and a good dash of personal spice blend.
Add two cans of low fat, low sodium chicken broth and bring to a simmer.
Add chicken back to dutch oven and simmer until just shy of done.
Remove chicken thighs and add box of orzo. Add water if necessary.
Chop was-frozen-now-partially-microwaved spinach and add to ducth oven.
When orzo is almost done, reintroduce chicken thighs.
Top with parmesan cheese and devour.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

In The News

Apparently, the number of people it takes to assassinate Mahmoud al-Mabhouh is up to twenty six.

The latest accusations by Dubai police raised the size of the alleged assassination team to at least 26 and further expanded the international web of the investigation — now stretching from the United State to Europe and Australia.

The above referenced article mainly discusses the diplomatic outrage concerning the fact that this team apparently used passports from Britain, Ireland, France and Australia. I’ll let the suits and paper pushers figure that out.

What concerns me is the fact that twenty six people were allegedly directly involved. Now, I’ll be the first to admit this type of operation isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but even so, I prefer to work alone, and if forced, in small teams. This isn’t Ocean’s Eleven, or Twelve. That’s just a lot of people to trust when your untortured future is on the line.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Going My Way?

What to do when you have to transport a body? Well, there are a few different types of bodies to transport.

First, you have a dead body. They’re easy to conceal in the trunk of a car and don’t make much noise. But, they are quite hard to explain if you’re talking to a customs agent who decides it would be a good idea to take a peak in your trunk.

Second are the alive but hostile bodies. The best part about this type is that they’re alive. When sitting in a car they don’t look dead and when given the proper motivation, or threat of physical violence to either them or someone they care about, they will generally sit still and can even say helpful things like, “No officer, there isn’t a problem here at all.” The worst part about the alive but hostiles is, well, they’re alive. They’re under duress and can be total wildcards. They can be a complete pain in the neck, alert law enforcement and get stressed enough to think that exiting a vehicle while bound at eighty five miles per hour on a busy highway is a good, safe way to attempt an escape.

Lastly are the alive and friendly type. For this kind, you can set up an arranged meeting time and place. Around lunch works well because it is a common time to leave the office. You get to the parking lot, pick up your friend Carson, take him to where he needs to go, acquire what information you need, and avoid information you don’t, like what is in that backpack, make sure you’re not being followed and return to work just in time to make that enthralling conference call you were scared you might miss.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Am Not Your Mother

Okay, I’m really tired and I’m having trouble making accurate sense of my observations.

- The guy at work who turned on a dime as soon as came around the corner while taking my lunch to the microwave was not avoiding me, just probably someone who forgot something at his desk.
- The telephony services van driving through the parking lot, occupied by two males, was probably not a tactical team meant to stalk me, but rather just doing work on the building.
- The guy at the grocery store moving the pallet jack of A&W Root Beer was not trying to impede my movement, he was traversing the soda aisle.

Of course I took all of these potential threats seriously, as you would if your life depended on it. But typically my point in time judgment is a bit more accurate.

Speaking of the grocery store, I’m making pasta carbonara for dinner. I sort of lied in the comments section of that link. I couldn’t wait until the weekend to try the dish. And I don’t know Carla personally, but anyone who lists sharp knives, cast iron, and small dogs for cleaning as topics of interest wins a spot among my blog bookmarks.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cheque This Out

Sometimes a man has just got to make a living.

In this business, you tend to stumble upon business operations that generate lots of money. A few years ago I was able to acquire a pile of cash, in the electronic sense, that I’ve been sitting on ever since.

Patience is the key. If you finish an operation and immediately go out and buy a boat or something, you’re sure to be under an allotment of fiscal microscopes. You need to be able to substantiate what you purchase. What isn’t watched as closely, however, are your everyday expenses.

Using this train of thought, today I set up an auto payment for all of my utility-esque expenses. Cable, internet, trash, water, and power. These are now paid automatically every month from an offshore account, funneled through an ING savings account, originating from my operational find a few years back.

The beauty of it all is that I’ve offset a few hundred dollars of monthly obligations that weigh against my corporate salary. Is it like winning the lottery? No. But winning the lottery draws attention. Attention gets you killed.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

On Demand

I was scrambling at the end of my work day. I had some data testing to finish up. It was taking me longer than necessary. This exaggerated timeline was purposeful. It allowed me to finalize the data for Mother.

I was finally able to aggregate the Bulgarian data Mother was looking for. I saved it to disc, sent an email to my boss, and headed out the door.

I had to get to Blockbuster. Mother placed a contact there. Between 5 and 5:15, the contact’s co-worker would be out on break. Given her pack a day habit, it was a pretty safe bet they’d be out back.

I pulled up a few minutes after the turn of the hour, and dropped off season 6 of 24 in the return bin, and left without talking to anyone. The third disc of the season, to an outsider, would look like any other burned compact disc. It will even play a forty five minute mix if someone played it. Encrypted, though, was a dossier detailing the ins and outs of the Bulgarian operation. It looked as if someone had mistakenly returned the wrong disc. My contact would swap this out with an actual 24 DVD and forward the information to Mother later on.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Good Things Come In...

This is certainly not the sight you want to see as soon as you wake up, and before your first cup of coffee.

Treasa and the dogs stayed over last night. I, being the first to rise, went downstairs, started the coffee and took the dogs outside. At the end of the cul-de-sac were two SUVs and a truck. Given the ice/snow covered roads, I’m more concerned about being attacked by vehicles with four wheel drive than some tinted out performance sedan.

The engines were cold and there wasn’t anyone inside the vehicles. Should I come under attack this morning, I have an extra layer of security; Brogan, the canine door bell.

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