“Only clowns would play with those balloons
Passive when I'm in record
Day and night,
I'm watching you "
-Sung by Goldfrappe
The contact man’s name was Don Monk. He was, ostensibly, a banker in Council Bluffs, Iowa. That’s just across the state line from Omaha. Sort of like Kansas City Mo. and Kansas City, Ks.
He was in his 40’s, and for all outward appearances an upstanding part of the community. That was a barometer of just how incredibly dangerous these people were. They hid in the plainest of sights.
Harry was going to get a loan from that particular bank, while wired with a button cam and transmitter. We’d test the waters first; find out what we could from an initial fishing expedition, then we’d move in. It was like a drug operation; we hoped to move up the ladder till we found the highest dog in the kennel.
But first, we had to hook this bulldog.
My only regret was that I couldn’t do it firsthand. But Monk would recognize my face in an instant.
Harry had doctored papers, lots of collateral, and a nice piece of property to buy. Any banker in the world would be insane not to back this loan.
We watched around the corner, in the van that we had outfitted for just this occasion. Nathan was happy since I had promised to donate the van and all the equipment to his department after this was all over. The best part was that it hadn’t yet developed that “FBI Van” scent that accumulates over the years.
Harry entered the bank and told a giddy teller about the deal we were offering, and she ran to get the loan officer. We all knew that face immediately; she brought a Don Monk with the most disgustingly avaricious smile any non-reptilian ever sported.
At this most important of all times the worst thing possible happened. I had to go to the bathroom! After making them promise they would save me a copy I ran off to the restaurant we had ordered breakfast from to make sure they would be available for just such a situation. Nobody was there but the staff, so I was not slowed by any lines.
It was also insanely quiet, being that the staff was three people, and with all that tile, the place was an echo chamber.
Lucky for me, too.
After sittiing down I heard the quietest click. Then, “He’s here,” was whispered by a female voice. Somehow it carried to me.
I suddenly didn’t need to go to the bathroom anymore. Funny how that works, isn’t it?
I stood up and exited the bathroom.
To my distress, none of the employees was visible. Like when the toll-taker drops the coin and leans out of sight to get it in “The Godfather.” You know something bad is coming. I didn’t want to be Sonny at that moment.
For the first time I was grateful to Nate’s department policy that “When anyone goes on surveillance, they MUST wear a vest!” I argued that even though I have lost a lot of weight those things still look like a bib on a linebacker.
I also hated the vests because they give you an undeserved feeling of invulnerability. They don’t stop someone from shooting you in the face or the arms or legs. Some guys even worried they’d get hit in their junk. I suppose at my time of life that didn’t come up to my mind as quickly.
I had hit the street before they got there, but I saw them.
They were in two cars. Both black, both with dark, tinted windows. For a second in was like a gangster film of the 30’s. The windows rolled down and they were ready to blast me, until I saw those two cars stopped right before me.
So I jumped between them. They had no openings to shoot out of at the front or back of the cars. I hopped up on the trunk of the one before the other one tried to slam into me and succeeded in locking their bumpers together.
Now all they could do was get out of the autos to shoot me, but by this time the cops from the van had come out and had their guns leveled. Since they couldn’t drive away with the cars in tandem, and they were encircled by armed police, they were caught.
Black and whites got there in a few minutes and took them away; a tow truck came a couple of minutes later. Where was this service when I had car problems?
Harry came around the corner.
“Well, did I miss some excitement?” he asked.
“No, nothing big,” I answered, “How’d it go with your transaction?”
“No problem and I’m sure he’s our guy. But I only got one name out of him before he got the phone call.”
“Yeah, he took off out the back door.”
“Yeah,” Nate said, “Our cops at the back door got him, so he didn’t really have time, we hope, to contact anyone else.”
“So at least we have one more name to follow up.”
Harry slowly shook his head. “We might not be able to follow this one up.”
“Okay,” I said with just a bit of anger, “Who did he name?”
“Congressman Turner Platt. He’s in Washington, isn’t he?”
“Yeah, he’s a rising star in the Republican party. Talk is he’s going to run for President in two years.”
“Holy crap,” Nathan gasped.
© C. Wayne Owens