Sunday, April 23, 2006
Fixer [Interim Title] Chapter 9
Note: Chapter 8 and 9 will get jammed together as one chapter in the next draft. But you get to see the first draft here. Enjoy!
Oh of course Wallace objected, but look, I had him. He had
forgotten or never learned the cop's first rule, which is to control the
situation. He'd been off balance since I'd first confronted him, and
was at the point now where he was too befuddled to resist when I
pushed him around.
I had Wallace give me his keys and drove his BMW. We stopped by my
apartment, where Wallace put his pants back on while I filled my
messenger bag cum handbag with goodies and stashed a couple of them under
the car seat while Wallace was still zipping his pants in my bathroom. Then
I put my own pants back on, along with the ankle holster. I
transferred the Kahr from my fanny pack to the ankle holster, hustled
Wallace out the door, and we were on our way to Oakland to see his
It was a small warehouse in one of the shabbier neighborhoods of
Oakland, an old warehouse district that had declined as newer
warehouses had been built to the north. There was a couple of guys
hanging around the loading dock, but nobody else around that I could
Wallace took me in through a side door, sliding his keycard through
the slot. Then he reached for an office doorknob.
"Let me," I said, pushing his hand aside and opening the door.
I walked through the door, pulling Wallace behind me, then let go
of Wallace's hand as the bald guy behind the battered desk said into
his phone, "I have to go, I'll call you back" and hung up.
It was the kind of seedy office you'd see in a bad gangster
movie. The Feds had gone beyond authentic into outright overkill with
this place. I wondered what went through this warehouse. Probably
guns. Guns to people that weren't nice people, if the CIA's past
record was any guide. But I was here on business of another sort.
"We need to talk," I said. There was a wooden chair in front of the
desk. I pushed it back, stepped up on it, then sat on the back of the
chair with my feet on its seat so that I was looking down at the
man. "Are you Vernon Hughes today?"
"I don't believe we've met?" he said, eyebrows raising.
"Kathy Varis. You sent your boyscout Wallace to follow me
around. He did a piss-poor job of it, as you can see."
"I see," he said, turning his gaze upon poor Wallace, who seemed to
"Way I figure it is, we can help each other," I said. "You have
things you want done, things that your boy scout here," and I nodded
towards Wallace, "can't do because he's too green and too dumb. And
me, I want a couple of things too, things that you can get for me but
I can't get for myself, not easily anyhow."
"I see. And exactly what do you believe you can do for me?"
I shrugged. "Whatever you want. Surveillance that nobody would ever
associate with you. Infiltration. Wiretapping. Bugging. A little
B&E. I'm not prime bodyguard material but I'm handy enough with a gun
if you have muscle to take care of the beef part of things. And of
course information. You won't believe the things I know about pretty
much anybody who's anybody around here. Ask me some questions, and I
can likely find you the answers if I don't know them already."
"And you want? ..."
I hopped down off the chair and sat on it, leaning my arms on the
desk. "I want the FBI and SEC files on my father. All of them,
including the parts that are, quote, pertaining to an open case,
unquote. And my mother's files too."
"I see. And you believe I can get these for you because... ?"
"Well, Vern, because you got poor Wallace here an FBI ID. Which
means you at least have a conduit into the FBI."
Vernon leaned back and smiled. I didn't like that smile. It was
like the smile of a shark looking at a minnow. I took my elbows off
the table and dropped my right hand near my right pants cuff, and my
left hand into my messenger bag. "And would you like to see your own
FBI file?" said the shark to the minnow.
"Not really," I said, not liking the direction this was going.
"Really? Because it's quite interesting." Vern pulled a folder
out of his desk drawer. I pulled my left hand out of my messenger bag,
a goodie clutched in it, and stuck said goodie on the underside of the
lip of the desk as my hand came back up.
Vernon opened the folder. "This is quite a story," Vernon
said. "You should read it. Talented gymnast, then parents cruelly
ripped from you, raped, abused, track star, top of your high school
class, cum laude from Stanford with a major in Political Science
and a minor in Computer Science? Frankly, if this wasn't an FBI file
I'd think it was bad fiction. Survivors like you aren't supposed to
I shrugged. "I was never good at that whole victim thing. What do
you say. I do a favor for you, you do a favor for me?"
"Odd thing about your post-college career, though," Vernon
said. "You worked at a couple of places, yet never managed to last
more than a few months. Why is that?"
"I don't play well with others," I said.
"Yet somehow managed to come out of it with enough money to buy a
run-down apartment complex."
"Then there is the strange spate of dead bodies that seem to be
left in your wake."
I shrugged. "Trouble seems to follow me."
"Yet it never seems to stick to you. I wonder why?"
"Luck," I said. "And that stupid four letter word, C-U-T-E. I got
it, I might as well use it." I leaned back and smiled my cutest
head-tilted smile. "What can I say? People just love my natural
charm. They want to pat me on the head and stuff. Isn't that just the
"Let me be blunt, Ms. Varis. You are dangerous, and the fact that
you managed to bludgeon poor Wallace into bringing you to my
doorstep makes that even clearer. I must admit that I underestimated
you. I will give you a piece of information. I believe that certain
people here in the Valley are providing critical support to, let us
say, various external enemies of the nation. I assigned Wallace to
follow you because one of our assets here was targetted by parties
unknown and it was unclear how involved you were in that. How do you
feel about doing work for your country?"
I shrugged. "Doesn't do me either way. If I'm catching your drift
right, you think someone is, say, fixing Osama bin Laden up with some
nifty communications gear so he can direct things from his cave
without the good guys catching him. I'm old fashioned, so I want
bastards like that caught, every bit of skin flayed off their body
until they die of pain and shock, then hung for the crows for the next
thirty days. But that's got nothing to do with country and everything to do
with not liking murdering bastards, regardless who they work for."
"So if I ask you for help regarding certain people who are removing
work from our ventures and moving those assets overseas..."
I shrugged. "Get me a copy of the files I want, and I'm your
girl. A favor for a favor."
"I see," Vernon said. "A pity. I had so hoped that you would be
willing to come to work for me full time. A young woman of your
talents could go far in this business."
I shrugged. "I don't play well with others. Besides, I like being
able to look in the mirror in the morning without being ashamed of
what I see."
"Ah, moral scruples. Do you see yourself as being an honorable woman,
"I don't know what that even means anymore," I said.
"I will get your files," Vernon said. "Then you will do a favor for
me. That is what it means."
"I guess so, then," I said.
"Our business here is done, then," Vernon said. "I will get your
files, then give you a call." He looked at Wallace. "Wallace, please
show the young woman out."
"Been a pleasure," I said, jumping up and reaching out to shake
Vernon's hand. Vernon looked as if he were staring at a cobra, then
took my hand in his own hand, which was surprisingly moist and limp. My
left hand came down with a clunk on the desk just as my right foot
pushed another of my toys up onto the underside of Vernon's desk.
"See ya," I said, waving goodbye as I followed Wallace out of the
Once the office door was closed, I asked Wallace where the lady's
room was, and he showed me. One nice thing about a lady's room -- a
guy isn't going to follow you into it. Not a nice guy like Wallace,
anyhow. So I had a few minutes to work. There was a suspended
ceiling. I climbed up on top of the toilet, and tried to reach it. No
dice. I closed the door of the toilet and chinned myself on it, then
crawled over it. With all the pushing, pulling, and chinning I'd done
today, I was going to sleep well tonight, and be a bit sore
in the morning besides, but so it goes. I'd had the kind of day where
I could just curl in a ball and pass out from exhaustion, but it
wasn't the first time I've felt that way, and like Coach Davis was
fond of saying, when the going gets tough, yada yada yada. So I shoved
the rather bulky transceiver package on top of the suspended ceiling,
where it was hidden from view, and then plopped back down to the floor
and went about my business.
I could listen for three days. After three days, the batteries
would be run down. Since there was no way in hell I was going to be
able to retrieve it all, this was close to a thousand dollars worth of
equipment that I was blowing here, with dubious payback. But
information was power... and I had the feeling that these guys weren't
telling me some things that I really, really wanted to know.
Posted by: BadTux / 4/23/2006 09:36:00 AM
The plot thickens...
# posted by SB Gypsy : 24/4/06 1:36 PM